United’s poor season means the club no longer commands the status of their rivals and the summer transfer window will be a minefield.
As a flawed victory against a dreadful West Brom side was played up by ManUtd.com as a “rediscovery of confidence, style and swagger” of old, it’s worth noting that another promising piece of news, this time from January, should be perhaps also be taken with a grain, if not a truckload of salt.
Unfortunately, the £200 million transfer kitty that will apparently be given to David Moyes guarantees nothing. Quite simply, United do not currently have the status to automatically sign world-class players who are not purely motivated by money alone. This was painfully illustrated by the farcical Fabregas saga, which, let’s remember, happened before United’s severe tailspin over the past few weeks.
Toni Kroos is the latest player to bat his eyelids in the general direction of the Premier League. This morning it was suggested that he would be happy to move, as he is demanding wage parity with Mario Götze at Bayern Munich. However, it wouldn’t take a hardened cynic to suspect that Kroos is either a) simply manoeuvring for a long-term deal at Bayern or b) advertising his services to more clubs than United. With regards to option a), it’s worth pointing out that Kroos and Goetze employ the same agent.
Kroos is a wonderful player, only 24 years of age and in scintillating form for Bayern. He has a north-south, attacking drive from midfield which is currently lacking at United with the exception of Juan Mata and is rewarded with extensive playing-time by Pep Guardiola. Mata’s arrival at least makes United’s midfield more of an attractive place to come and play football. But at the moment, Kroos is playing at a club with Götze, Thomas Müller,, Arjen Robben, Franck Ribéry and Thiago Alcântara and Bayern have not lost a game all season. Unless Bayern put their foot down and tell him he’s not getting anywhere, the most likely scenario is that Kroos stays in Munich.
All of this means that far from £200 million relieving any kind of pressure on Moyes, it simply cranks it up to a whole new level. Moyes, and Ed Woodward, will have to negotiate tricky waters filled with higher quality and more attractive sharks. Kroos may have suggested that Champions’ League football is irrelevant, but this is highly unlikely. If Chelsea or Manchester City come along with an equivalent offer to Kroos, United can expect to lose out.
The £200 million is simply the tool, which will be useless without the right workman. The onus is now on Ed Woodward to redeem himself after the appalling mess that was last summer’s transfer activity. Other problems continue to face the chief executive – the exit of Nemanja Vidic could have been handled far better (see Carlos Puyol and Barcelona for how to do this properly), and Robin Van Persie seems to be in a state of open rebellion, happy to risk being sent off with two ridiculous striker-tackles and giving Moyes the frowning of his life upon being substituted, not to mention openly questioning his manager’s tactics.
Doom and gloom it may be, but despite an improved performance on Saturday the reality is that there is an awful lot of work to do. Assuming the Glazers do not have a sudden change of heart and decide to relieve Moyes of his job, squeaky bum time is about to take on a whole new meaning.