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If you are a Manchester United fan reading this and Bruno Fernandes has still not signed for your club, all you can do is pray that Ed Woodward and his team have not ruined another nailed on transfer for your club.
The Old Trafford outfit are in a desperate need for a creative midfielder with the Portuguese ace heavily linked with a January move to Premier League. Portuguese media were convinced of a deal to go through on Saturday but recent reports indicate otherwise.
It has been claimed that the Red Devils are haggling over the asking price which has put this seemingly done deal under serious threat. However, this is not something new for the Manchester United fans who have become rather used to suffering transfer disappointments season after season.
Ever since taking over as the Executive Vice Chairman at Manchester United, Ed Woodward has been blamed for several failed negotiations which has eventually led to the team’s dismal showing on the pitch.
David Moyes has publicly claimed he was let down by failed transfer promises in his first season which saw him get the sack just 10 months into the job.
Louis van Gaal and Jose Mourinho combined may have splashed over £500 million in transfers but failed to get the players they were promised or wanted desperately at the club.
Not long after his sacking, van Gaal took all his frustration out on Ed Woodward saying that Manchester United is run by people with ‘zero’ knowledge of football. The Dutchman also claimed that the red team from Manchester is operated purely from a commercially-driven perspective.
Jose Mourinho in his final season also fell out with the Manchester United CEO because of his failure in signing players the former Chelsea manager wanted. With so many accusations coming his way it is only fitting we look at the top three Manchester United transfer negotiations ruined by Ed Woodward’s incompetence.
#3. Marouane Fellaini - 2013
David Moyes was right in complaining over failed transfer promises in his first and only season in charge at Old Trafford. The former Everton manager was dreaming of signing Cesc Fabregas, Toni Kroos, or Thiago Alcantara that summer but all he got was Marouane Fellaini.
You must be wondering why the Belgian star is on this list despite signing for the Red Devils. It is simply because Woodward ended up paying £27.5 million for the player when he was easily available for just £23.5 million.
According to The Guardian, Fellaini had a release clause of £23.5 million which was due to expire on 31st July 2013. However, Woodward thought it would be a wise tactic to haggle over Fellaini’s asking fee and Everton may end up accepting a lower bid from the Red Devils.
However, as things turned, the Toffees held their ground and because of the other failed negotiations (Fabregas, Kroos, Thiago), Manchester United ended up paying an extra £4 million for the former Toffees midfielder on the deadline day.
#2. Erling Haaland - 2020
Manchester United’s failure in signing Erling Haaland this month has once again exposed the frailties of the club’s weak transfer policy and negotiation tactics. The entire Red Devils fan base was left in shock as their team failed to replace Romelu Lukaku after he joined Inter Milan last summer.
The effect was alarming and visible for everyone to see as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s team struggled for goals in the first half of this season. Mason Greenwood’s emergence and Marcus Rashford’s extraordinary form must not deceive the Manchester United fans as they clearly need a central striker to help the team.
Erling Haaland was seen as the ideal striker for the Old Trafford outfit after the Norwegian star was made available in January for a cut-price deal. The 19-year-old striker has high regard for Solskjaer and even held face to face talks with his former manager and mentor.
There were reports of Solskjaer flying to Norway in order to convince his protégé to snub offers from other clubs and become a Red Devil. However, Ed Woodward and his team decided to not give in to the demands of Haaland’s agent and passed up the chance to sign one of Europe’s most prolific goal-scorers this season.
The former RB Salzburg striker is represented by Mino Raiola, who in the past had successfully closed the deals for Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Paul Pogba, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, and Romelu Lukaku. It was clearly not the case where Manchester United did not know how to negotiate with Raiola.
It only needed the right push from Manchester United and the former RB Salzburg striker was theirs for the taking but like so many occasions, Ed Woodward and his team led down their club, the manager and more importantly the fans. The 19-year-old forward eventually signed for Borussia Dortmund for just €22.5 million.
#1. Toby Alderweireld – 2018
Jose Mourinho in his final season at Old Trafford knew the defensive shortcomings of his squad and wanted to sign at least two central defenders. The Portuguese had handpicked Toby Alderweireld and Harry Maguire to be lead his defensive unit.
According to reports, Mourinho was desperate to sign the Belgian defender. The Red Devils had even tabled a substantial £40 million offer only to be rejected by Daniel Levy. Following a brief spell of negotiation, Ed Woodward called off the deal and refused to take the talks forward.
The Special One kept pushing for a defender and then it became apparent that Harry Maguire would sign for the Old Trafford outfit which also did not happen. Manchester United kept bidding low hoping that the player would rebel and force their way out of the club.
However, nothing of that sort happened because the Theatre of Dreams is currently going through a nightmare phase where top players are opting to stay away from the Glazers and Woodward era.
In the end, Mourinho did not get any central defender and his final season at Old Trafford was a disaster. The Portuguese manager was sacked halfway through the campaign and to make matters more comical, Manchester United ended up paying £80 million for Harry Maguire the following summer.
Failed transfer matters and bizarre signings have been a pattern at the club with Woodward in charge and it seems only a matter of time before Ole Gunnar Solskjaer feels the same way.
The former United striker has so far maintained a positive outlook on transfers but time and time again, he has lost a player in the last 12 months without a proper replacement. His midfielder is currently running on fumes and he is desperate for a proper centre forward who can change games with his presence up top.
Despite seeing the obvious shortcomings, Ed Woodward and Matt Judge have done little to show urgency in the January transfer window. It will certainly not surprise me if they fail with Bruno Fernandes’ transfer this month as well despite several reports calling it a ‘DONE DEAL’.
Published 18 Jan 2020, 23:16 IST