So one or both of Ed Woodward and David Moyes screwed up. This much is certain.
Entreaties to Cesc Fabregas, Luka Modric, Ander Herrera, Mesut Özil and Juan Mata went thoroughly and brutally unfulfilled. The club is – rightfully – embarrassed by three months of low-ball bids and beat-poet serenades below player balconies that hit all the wrong notes.
And now, as it emerges that the three men previously dubbed “impostors” who attempted to negotiate Herrera’s buyout clause in fact had legitimate United connections. The best-known and perhaps most powerful club in Britain painted itself as indecisive, frugal and badly lacking the impetus offered by the departed leadership.
Formerly, desir’d fillies entered the United stable after being entranced by mere nudges and winks. In the quarter leading up to September 2nd, the Red Devils struck out at an astonishing rate. This left David Moyes attempting to spin a wasted summer – hardly his strength – thus finding himself exactly the situation the club hoped to avoid by acquiring one or two truly world-class players.
However, the club’s administrative incompetence may have a serendipitous side-effect.
Marouane Fellaini was always the player Moyes was most likely to end up with. The pair’s past relationship at Everton, his desire to play Champions League football and status as a fallback for misfiring bids for wantastays like Fabregas made him most likely to cross the Old Trafford threshold. That he cost 4 million more than he would have a month ago … well, that’s unfortunate, but Fellaini is obviously a player of quality. However, questions persist if he’s a quote-unquote United player.
Such concerns are answered with relative ease: he may not have a typically polished United skill set* but compensates by being the most unique midfielder in Europe. No other central player has his combination of versatility, physical stature and ability to influence games across the entire park. While he may not scythe balls through defences like Modric or Mata, Fellaini’s style offers defences the Catch-22 of matching him in the air or on the carpet. It’s unlikely many teams could blunt both simultaneously.
Man U fans would certainly have preferred Johnny Kills or Özil professing undying loyalty while holding aloft a red scarf – and why not, considering they’re two of the best ten players in the world? (According to the Guardian, the Afro-ed One ranks number 60, the sixteenth best player in England and the only one outside this year’s title contenders). Supporters may mourn, but while Mata, Fabregas or Özil might have professed more so-called intent, Fellaini presents defences with a completely singular problem.
Heaven forbid his arrival masks the serious flaws United displayed throughout the window; the club acted not like a global power but like a desperate teen late on prom night. A list of targets for the January anti-bonanza must be created to ensure their most coveted player arrives to ensure United keeps its reputation as a destination club.
Despite its disappointing conclusion, the success or failure of Manchester United’s transfer window should not be assessed according to the presence (or absence) of statement signings, buts whether the club actually improved their squad. It shouldn’t matter if Fellaini was option A, B or J – only that his purchase makes United more dangerous and complete, which he does.
While Fabregas was a good option A, Marouane Fellaini is one hell of an option C.
*Ashley Young has that polished skillset but continually refuses to influence matches in any perceivable way.