“Manchester United was a club with great traditions, traditions where they tended to pick British managers. That tradition has now gone. They were a football club who enjoy traditions with the way they spent.”
David Moyes’s words in his interview with the Telegraph recently meant to cause a stir, and they certainly did among United fans. The Scot was speaking ahead of his Sunderland side’s Boxing Day clash against the Red Devils, and his first return to Old Trafford since being sacked nine months into a colossal job.
Evidently, the former Everton coach still has a bone to pick with the hierarchy in Manchester, going to lengths to aim not so subtle digs at his former employers for their seemingly frivolous spending.
It was insinuated by Moyes that after Sir Alex Ferguson had retired, things started to go wrong at United, with the man himself being sacked, nine months into a six-year deal.
“Of course, they bought [Eric] Cantona and the best defender in Rio Ferdinand and looked for players, but Man United never went out there to show they had the biggest balls. Man United did what they thought was right for the football club, always.
Maybe that has had to change because of the current situation. [But] Sir Alex [Ferguson] went out and bought wisely and correctly in the transfer market and what he thought he needed to do.”
But has Manchester United’s traditions disappeared in the transfer market? We’ve reviewed all eighteen of the club’s major signings since Ferguson’s departure.
Being one of Moyes’s first major signings in a deal worth £27.5 million in September 2013, Fellaini’s awkward physicality was meant to be a blessing rather than a burden in United’s midfield. However, the opposite has largely been true, and the vast majority of fans wish to see the back of the Belgian in January.
Mata’s transfer has been one that has been hugely beneficial for all parties involved. Chelsea received £37 million to compensate for allowing the Spaniard to move to the Red Devils, and since his arrival the ex-Valencia star has been outstanding.
It had been expected that the club would sell the 28-year-old considering the player’s somewhat frayed relationship with Jose Mourinho, but the Portuguese tactician has decided to place his faith in Mata, and it is no surprise to see the midfielder be one of the few to excel this season.
What can we say? A total disaster.
Although he hasn’t drawn the praise he received for his excellent performances on the international stage with the Netherlands prior to his move, Blind has accustomed relatively well to football in England. His versatility is a much-needed option for Mourinho.
Rojo’s place in the starting eleven always seems to be up for debate, but his budding partnership with Phil Jones has seen fans appreciate the Argentinian’s presence in Mourinho’s eleven. He has grown under a new guide.
Herrera is another player who is only developing in the positive fashion under Mourinho after a difficult relationship with Louis van Gaal. The Basque-born midfielder has already equalled his number of assists for last season, and has been a supreme influence when played. Overall, Herrera has been a solid acquisition.
A horrific injury against PSV Eindhoven halted Shaw’s progress, and the England international endured a difficult start to life under Mourinho after being labelled unfit in pre-season.
However, Shaw is slowly working his way back into his manager’s plans, and his comeback from injury is almost complete. If he can match the level of performance the fans saw prior to his breakdown, he could be a legend in the making at Old Trafford.
His awful attitude was rarely bettered by his quality on the pitch. Like Falcao, simply an abysmal signing.
When called upon, Romero has usually been reliable. A risk-free signing.
A glittering career at Bayern Munich meant that when Schweinsteiger came to United, his stellar reputation preceded him. United acquired a player well past his prime though, and now the 32-year-old is waiting impatiently for his move away from the club after a nightmare spell.
Consistency is his major problem. Last season’s defeat to Arsenal when Alexis Sanchez eradicated Darmian within twenty minutes almost ended his United career, but he is slowly showing why United paid good money to sign him from Torino. Not a terrible footballer, but Mourinho’s patience could eventually wear thin with the full-back.
His departure to Everton looks set to be announced in the coming weeks. For a man who arrived as one of the world’s most renowned youngsters, Depay has simply failed to deliver.
Schneiderlin is the other name expected to leave United, with West Brom’s £18 million offer for the Frenchman likely to be accepted. For a variety of reasons, it simply hasn’t worked out for the former Southampton man, but he has worked hard to fit into the ethos at the club.
His explosive start against Liverpool on his debut promised great things, but Martial struggles to fully unlock his vast potential. West Ham have enquired about a possible loan, but for now United are reluctant to lose a valuable back-up. There is still somewhat to be desired from Martial by fans, and rightly so.
He can be frustrating, but Ibrahimovic has already created enough moments of magic in front of goal to warrant his considerable wages. Despite his advancing years, the Swede still has quite a lot to offer, and evidently has a strong working relationship with Mourinho.
Generally reliable at the back, but he may struggle to break back into the team due to Rojo and Jones’s fine partnership. It remains to be seen whether Bailly is worth the fee United paid Villareal in the summer, but he provides strong cover.
Bizzarely, Mkhitaryan wasn’t allowed to show exactly what he can do by Mourinho until last month by and large, but the Armenia captain was immense upon recall. Injury ended his fine performance against Tottenham, but such is his prowess on the ball that Mourinho would not dare drop him when he returns to fitness.
As the most expensive player on the planet, Pogba’s performances will always be under the microscope, but there is no denying his obvious quality on the ball.
The Frenchman has become increasingly key to the balance and cohesion to United’s team, and is a dominant force on the pitch.
We are only at the halfway stage of the season, but Pogba should prove key to United meeting their top four target at the end of the campaign.
Callum Connolly, Pundit Arena.