We can only wonder what staggeringly expensive megastar Manchester United might have lured to Old Trafford this summer had they ultimately secured a top four spot and Champions League football. Let’s not even speculate with names.
We all know the names. The flawed long-standing Galactico model that has seen Angel Di Maria, Paul Pogba, Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez head to the formerly dominant giants for colossal fees and wages would surely have resumed as the club desperately attempt to claw back some ground on their superseding rivals Liverpool and Manchester City.
Almost certainly a transfer record would have been broken, if not smashed. This might still be the case, of course. It’s worth noting that Di Maria arrived in the summer immediately following an underwhelming seventh place finish. Pogba too was purchased with only a Europa League campaign to offer beyond domestic fare.
Yet increasingly as the window widens it is becoming clear that a reappraisal in transfer strategy has taken hold within the club, with a reluctance to exorbitantly compensate elite and established talent to join the red gravy train. About time, many United supporters might say to that and especially given the failure – to varying degrees – of the quartet mentioned above.
Instead it seems that a new, much more pragmatic model is being put in place, one that directly fits the ethos regularly espoused by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to rebuild using the blueprints from United’s recent and successful past.
According to The Sun, the club are seriously considering the formation of a transfer committee featuring three former players in order to better identify players who correspond with United’s DNA. It is a move that was met with scoffing in some quarters and considered criticism elsewhere, with the latter exampled by writer Ryan Baldi’s thoughts on Twitter.
No doubt Ferdinand, Butt and Fletcher are very intelligent men. But it feels like United are dangerously overplaying how much “knowing the club” is relevant. There’s an alarming lack of expertise and experience in almost every department
— Ryan Baldi (@RyanBaldiFW) May 23, 2019
As for recruitment, Swansea’s young flying winger Daniel James has been linked numerous times with talks reported to be on-going, while a bid for Newcastle midfielder Sean Longstaff is said to be imminent.
These are sensible targets for the thirteen-time Premier League champions, and as much as their intention to re-employ ex-stars has prompted jokes that Luke Chadwick will be running the match-day parking soon, the ‘committee’ idea too has legs in taking some of the decision-making away from much-maligned vice-chairman Ed Woodward.
And yet. And yet this all strongly feels like Manchester United are veering from one extreme to the other and adopting a philosophy that is equally doomed to fail.
For several years now it exasperated how United believed a single Faberge egg in their summer basket would magically transform their fortunes. Now a rose-tinted adherence to their values of lore, when United were under-pinned by home-grown talent that grew with the club, will only see them stagnate further – just more ethically so.
Will the likes of James and Longstaff – two players who should not be under-estimated by any stretch after their impressive breakthrough years – improve the present squad? Unquestionably yes but by what measure? The same thinking applies to their structural rejig behind the scenes.
The Galactico experiment regressed United and left them a good quantum leap behind their rivals. Reacting to that so fully will only do likewise.