“The day that this is football, I’m not in a job anymore because the game is about playing together” – Jurgen Klopp on Paul Pogba’s world-record breaking transfer to Manchester United.
I sympathise with Jurgen Klopp, I really do, but sadly for the father of rock-and-roll football, this day looks to be fast approaching. I wouldn’t say I’m demanding his letter of resignation quite yet, though.
Football money has become insane. If you don’t believe me, just remember that Watford turned down a £25million bid for Troy Deeney. But marquee signings aren’t anything new – Manchester United aren’t visionaries for signing Paul Pogba for £89million any more than they are madmen.
The problem is, spending big is no longer in vogue. That ship sailed from a landlocked city in central Spain a while ago. Ed Woodward was the new Florentino Perez, right when Ranieri’s ‘thrift shop look’ was in season.
For a large part of the last decade football fans have admired Real Madrid for their star-spangled team sheets and blitzing style of play. They have become a global brand and a hugely successful European super club, thanks in part to their ‘galacticos’ transfer policy.
The problem, and what many clubs have perhaps failed to recognise in the past few years, is that we admire Real Madrid in the same way that one might admire a Sith lord for his tremendous understanding of the Force. Real Madrid are a club to admire, yes, but also one to make a mental note of as how not to run your own club.
Manchester United’s turn down the path to the financial dark side is a recent one, but it wouldn’t be a stretch to suggest that the almighty Sir Alex Ferguson is guilty of initiating it.
Robin van Persie was 29 when he joined United in 2012 for £26m – a galactico of sorts and influential in winning Fergie one last title. But the next two seasons of injury woes established the Dutchman as much more of a ‘geriatrico’ before his eventual departure to Fenerbahce. The first of the big money failures at Old Trafford.
For one reason or another, Manchester United’s big signings keep throwing themselves on the fan and media-made funeral pyre. Between Marouane Fellaini, Angel Di Maria, Radamel Falcao, and Memphis Depay, you’d be hard pressed to find any performances worthy of the players’ designer price tags.
It is in the failure of so many of these recent signings that the difference between Manchester United and Real Madrid is felt most keenly. At least Real Madrid, for all their critics, can’t stop winning the Champions League.
United haven’t been competing on the same level as their transfer policy forefathers because their own galacticos simply haven’t been the superstars they are meant to be. If Manchester United have indeed been attempting to emulate Real Madrid then they’ve been making a pretty half-hearted attempt of it.
Marouane Fellaini isn’t a galactico any more than Pepe is a paragon of good sportsmanship, but they spent a huge amount of money on him. Even Di Maria, the closest United have got to a Real Madrid style superstar recently, is a tier below what most people would consider ‘galactico’ standard. It simply hasn’t been good enough.
There is one man who changes everything for United, and who will drag the club out of its Sir Alex mourning period and back into the realms of success, no matter what the cost – Jose Mourinho. As far as I’m concerned, Mourinho is the most important galactico signing United have made.
For the first time since Fergie, United have a manager who will win them trophies, and lots of them. They also have a manager who is willing, and able, to sign the galacticos that United have been looking for.
For all the flaws in this sort of transfer policy, it brought Madrid huge amounts of success, and United finally look like they could reach similar heights. They are too far down the path towards galactico-fuelled success to turn back now, and Mourinho has no intention of doing so.
Perhaps the most important trait that Mourinho possesses however is his indifference towards what is fashionable. The Guardiola summer range is the hottest thing in football right now but if Mourinho has to trip him up on the catwalk then he won’t hesitate.
In the same vein, to Mourinho, winning the league with Vardy and Mahrez is no different to winning it with Zlatan and Pogba. In Jose’s world, Klopp is welcome to criticise because it distracts him from trying to win the league himself. This is the mentality United need if they want to win things again.
They need real galacticos too, though. Enter, Paul Pogba. The prodigal son returns to Old Trafford for a world-record transfer fee and wage demands to match. This is what a galactico looks like; priced at 18% of the club’s turnover, 23 years old, and the potential to become one of the best midfielders in the world. Galactico transfer business done right.
Add to this, Zlatan Ibrahimovic – a man who is probably annoyed that he didn’t invent the word ‘galactico’ to describe himself, on a free transfer. Even if, like RVP, he has one great season and then makes good friends with the United medical staff, that’s a decent free transfer in my book, never mind the things he could teach Marcus Rashford. A ‘geriátrico’ that just might pay off.
With all of these changes occurring at Old Trafford, you’d be forgiven for sensing an air of cautious optimism. Manchester United, in this scary new footballing financial climate that makes Arsene Wenger’s hands tremble, have a real chance to do the galactico thing right.
With Mourinho ripping up Ed Woodward’s transfer guidebook, United can look to replicate some of Real Madrid’s European success, without the Florentino Perez-esque Sith lord figure looming over the place and preaching about the dark side slightly too often.
This article was submitted via our Write For Us feature. Think you can do better? Submit your own article via the link below, and give yourself the chance of winning monthly cash prizes…