A window of opportunity for Moyes and United

Alex ConnockBy

In modern football, money is magic. It made Chelsea shatter the duopoly of Manchester United and Arsenal in the Premiership, and transformed Manchester City from mid-table nobodies, to genuine contenders for an unprecedented quadruple. Even Arsenal have finally discovered their wallets and look like breaking their nine-year drought from silverware.

In recent years, the big clubs have spent big and reaped the rewards, all except one. Who needed money when you had Sir Alex Ferguson? The wizard that could make world-beaters out of average players, and make the good truly great. However the golden era is over and Old Trafford is in chaos.

This season, they languish in seventh, uncertain of even Champions League football. The midfield is devoid of creativity, the old guard of the defence are failing and the new boys are not good enough to take the reins. Reinforcements are required, and the transfer window offers this opportunity. However in this business, it doesn’t come cheap.

Manchester United broke their own transfer record this week, by spending £37 million on a true magician of the game, Juan Mata. The signing of Mata is a statement of defiance by United that they will not disappear into the Europa League wilderness. Mata is the first brick, the cornerstone of this rebuild, yet many more are needed.

“Mata is the first brick, the cornerstone of this rebuild.”

Glenn Hoddle said after the 3-1 defeat to Chelsea, that ten new players were needed in that team. While I believe that to be a bit extreme, substantial reinforcements need to arrive. There are problems everywhere from the goalkeeper to the front line, and David Moyes has been granted a £200 million war chest, in which he pledged to buy “five more Matas”.

Although tongue in cheek, United don’t need five Matas, they need a Keane, an Ashley Cole, a Scholes, a Toure and most importantly, a Rooney. Despite the need for fresh blood, United cannot afford to lose one of the few players that has performed outstandingly this season

That is why we will see United flex their financial muscles and remind their rivals, even if they are not able to compete with the top teams .on the pitch at the moment, United can still hit hard in the transfer window. They have already attempted to hijack Chelsea’s deal to bring nineteen-year-old Kurt Zouma to the Premiership, a player of the style of Yaya Toure.

Zouma is just one player on an endless list of potential United transfer targets, according to the various reports of different newspapers. The Independent believes United have already submitted a £20 million bid for Iker Gundogan, the highly rated Borussia Dortmund player, someone who they have been linked to for a while. Even a slightly humiliating U-turn on Paul Pogba is possible, with United considering buying back the player they sold to Juventus last year, who has been a revelation in Serie A.

In terms of the backline, Moyes has been observing Schalke’s Greek centre-half Kyriakos Papadopoulos. Many also believe that Moyes will try to pluck young English starlet, Luke Shaw, from Southampton’s impressive squad; he is even contemplating signing Glen Johnson from arch rivals Liverpool.

Juan Mata (left) who has just signed for United
Juan Mata (left) who has just signed for United

This plethora of high quality names reveals the frightening status of Manchester United, as even when Champions League football is uncertain for next year, they can still attract this calibre of player. This luxury may rapidly disappear, as it did for Liverpool, if they fail to reach the promised land of the Champions League at the end of the season which makes this transfer window essential.

Also there is the reappearance of the problem of Wayne Rooney’s contract. Rooney has recaptured his best form, taking up the role of talisman, discarded by the injured Robin Van Persie. It is rumoured United are willing to pay him a staggering £300,000 a week, on a five year contract. However, will Rooney need to be convinced by United’s transfer window dealings, to distract him from the flirtations of that charmer Mourinho at Stamford Bridge? Another factor that makes this transfer window pivotal.

Moyes’ reign has predictably been bombarded with comparisons to what Ferguson would have done. Ferguson had this team winning the League, why can’t he? People question Moyes’s authority, decisions, and ridiculously, even his job security. Moyes knows what criticism he deserves but he now has the ultimate opportunity to rebuild United, a job Ferguson even had to do a few times in his long tenure.

For once in his career, unlike at Everton, he has immense financial resources to pursue the players he needs. The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing everyone he was dead. If this transfer window goes well, the Red Devils might just do the same thing and come back with a vengeance.

Photographs: Ronnie MacDonald & Alex Connock

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