Attempting to solve Enigma 2013: United’s transfer campaign strategy

We have all been pretty confused this summer about the summer transfer campaign. It is said we have a plan in place. Some of us believe it, others don’t. Few trust the club, others just think Moyes and Woodward are totally incompetent and have the IQ of some pesky insect. But i subscribe to the theory that United have a plan, and that Moyes and Woodward aren’t idiots. So, i am going to explore what exactly our plan was from the start, and it is just a theory, so it’s up to you whether you believe it or not. Personally, i think the theory is logical, and i actually do believe it is a strong possibility. Before we delve into the theory, lets first meet the assumptions.

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Assumptions

1.) Glazers are businessmen. They are money hungry bastards, sure, but they know that to protect and enhance the value of their asset, they will have to keep investing in it (more like letting United keep investing their own money into the transfer budget and wage budget). 

2.) Moyes is not an idiot. He has managed in the Premier League for around a decade, and is very experienced for a so called “young manager”. Nor is he a yes-man, or a slave to the Glazers.

3.) Ed Woodward is not an idiot. So many i have met this summer think he is either an idiot (really low IQ) and/or doesn’t have a clue about handling the football side and dealing of a club. The second point may be true, but the first point certainly is not true. To prove it, i am going to write down some of his current career achievements.

Ed Woodward’s CV

1993-Bachelor of Science degree in Physics, from Bristol University

1998-Gained his Chartered Accountancy qualifications

1993 to 1999-Worked in Accounting and Tax Advisory department at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC)

1999 to 2005-Worked as an investment banker, in the International Mergers & Acquisitions team, at J.P. Morgan

2005-Advised the Glazers regarding the MUFC takeover, since J.P. Morgan was employed by the Glazers.

2005-Joined United (Glazers wanted him), and managed the capital structure of the group and advised on the overall financial business plan.

2007-Assumed responsibility for the commercial and media operations, along with developing and implementing a new overall commercial strategy for the club. This resulted in a new structured approach to commercialising the brand, including developing the sponsorship strategy. (Basically, he is the brainchild of United’s sponsorship strategy that you have been witnessing for the past few years, and he is supposedly a good negotiator too).

2012-Became a MUFC Director

2013-Continues doing what he did before, but due to David Gill stepping down, he has also taken over Gill’s former roles and responsibilities (such as player transfers, salary negotiations, etc).

A man with a CV like that is not an idiot. He may or may not know how to handle the football side of running a football club, but if he doesn’t know, then he will learn and adapt. David Gill did the same thing, and he has a somewhat similar CV to Ed Woodward. Both become CEO of United, and climbed up the ranks to get there. So, we can be sure that Ed is not an idiot.

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United’s transfer campaign strategy, in the words of Moyes and Woodward

First of all, lets look at the summer transfer window from Moyes perspective, and imagine, or try to be in his shoes for a minute. He has just taken the United job. Still a couple of games to go till the end of EPL 2012/13 season. Still a couple of United, and Everton, matches left to go. He can’t really assess the squad since he has to focus on Everton, and when the matches are finally done, there are very few days left. Once those days are over, the United players are off on their vacations or international duty before that. Moyes can’t assess the squad until he meets them face to face, for a few weeks, and takes the training sessions. But he does realise that the biggest hole in the Champions squad is in midfield, especially since Scholes retired. So, even though he hasn’t met and fully assessed the current squad, he still goes after the most highly rated central midfielder on the market, Thiago. 

He chased Thiago till mid July, which is when he decided to go Bayern instead. Around that time, not only were we on tour, but Moyes had also finished assessing the squad (he had all his current CMs in the tour party, namely, Carrick, Anderson and Cleverley). From the start Moyes said he will be going after the best players in the world, for positions he feels needs strengthening. He also said he will trust and develop the youth in the club, so should we fail to land the top targets, then its possible that he wouldn’t buy average players since he would feel its better instead to give the youth a chance to shine and prove themselves. Most of the things said so far using his own words.

“It was always going to be a difficulty window for me personally. I joined on the 1st of July, which has given me a short period [short transfer market window]. It’s never the same until you have worked with the players, but we have got a great group of players, that won the Premier League last year.” -Moyes

 

“I will not name anybody, but certainly we are always looking at the best players. I think we are trying to strengthen in a couple of areas. We are short in midfield. We are also a club that tends to invest in the youth side, so you can expect us to go for players in that age group. We are working hard to make sure the first signing is the right one. I have been left a really good team and i want to add to it sensibly”.-Moyes

 

Moyes has constantly hinted that we are only after top quality players, and maybe even some quality youngsters that will become stars in the future. Top quality players tend to cost a lot of money, and he claims that he has the full financial support of the club, including if and when he wants to after stellar signings. This is what Ed Woodward, David Gill’s successor said when asked if United would be willing to spend 60 million or 70 million on a single player. 

“Yes. Absolutely.”-Woodward

 

Ed Woodward went on to elaborate on how United will handle transfer dealings in the future.

“I want to continue from where David Gill left us, and David Moyes from Sir Alex. The way we worked with Alex was he would identify the transfer targets and take them to Joel Glazer and David Gill, who would have discussions which ended with them backing him in the transfer market every single time and we see that continuing with David Moyes. We could have broken the transfer record in the past if we wanted to [not sure if he meant United’s transfer record or the world transfer record, probably the former i think]. Alex may not have gotten all the players he wanted, but that was never down to not releasing funds. There’s never been a cut-off price. We haven’t got the money burning a hole in our pocket, but we have a strategy on player purchases, and if David [Moyes] wants to go after a stellar player, he can do that. What we will do is be careful with our money, in the sense we aren’t going to go into the market as mugs. We look at the value of the player compared to other players in his position. There is no mysterious process.”-Woodward

 

Moyes has repeatedly hinted that deals will be done much later in the window than he would have liked, but he blames this on the circumstances, since he is a new Manchester United manager, and since he has inherited a league title winning squad, so he should mostly focus on adding quality to it. But despite all that, he is still the manager, and as manager, he has the option of choosing the transfer strategy. Aiming high is ambitious, and i like that, but it is also risky, but i am personally willing to accept the risks (we wouldn’t have gotten RVP if we weren’t ambitious and willing to take chances in the transfer market). Moyes could have easily gone out and bought a central midfielder, or a player in another position, that were good (maybe even avarage) but not world class. Such a transfer strategy would have been far less risky, and probably we would have signed some players long before now. But such a strategy would have lacked ambition, and sections of the United fanbase would have labelled him a Glazer-slave, and panned him for his lack of ambition, just like they are doing now (even though he seems to have accepted the ambitious, but risky, transfer strategy). Moyes would have understood something about the United fanbase during the summer, which is, the United fanbase is too large and various factions exist among them, so he can’t please them all, just like Sir Alex couldn’t please them all. 

By accepting such a risky, but ambitious, transfer strategy, he knows and provides hints to the fanbase that signings will probably happen towards the end of the transfer window. But a few days back, he acknowledged the risk in the transfer strategy.

“There is a possibility we won’t sign anyone. We have targeted certain quality players, so we will see. There is a need for me to sign players. But there is no pressure. If the right players are available, then great. If not, then we will encourage our own young players.”-Moyes

 

I have said many times that Moyes is a very methodical man when it comes to the transfer market. He seems to have had complex transfer strategies while he was in charge of Everton, and i don’t expect to see him drop his methods in the future as United manager. I have mentioned this article a few times, but i will mention it again. Here is the link to a great article on Moyes methods, when it comes to the transfer market. 

http://www.independent.co.uk/sport/football/premier-league/scouting-system-that-reveals-david-moyes-mind-8756011.html

Ed Woodward said there won’t be major changes to the squad. Most fans have interpreted that as United not going to spend much money this window, and very fans think he meant that in terms of players, there won’t be too many changes, and i personally belong in that small group of fans. His exact words are listed below.

“I wouldn’t expect there to be a major retooling of the squad. There is incredible depth. We could put out two first teams with 11 internationals in each. It has been a phenomenal season [2012/13 season]. We are a long way ahead in the Premier League, and whilst i wouldn’t describe the way we got knocked out of the Champions League as luck things could have gone differently in that game. We have a young squad and each of those are a year older. We are very comfortable with the make up of the team and squad.”

 

It should be noted, that these words by Ed Woodward came around 2nd May 2013. To put that in perspective, Sir Alex hadn’t announced his retirement yet, and rumours of his retirement started surfacing around 7th May 2013. Ed’s words came around the time Sir Alex approached David Moyes regarding the Manchester United manager job opening. So, Ed hadn’t even met Moyes, let alone discussed his (Moyes) plans for the summer transfer window. This is why Ed’s words in the interview i just quoted, should be taken with a pinch of salt. His words may have meant something, but i find it unlikely to have meant much since he hadn’t sat down with Moyes yet. Moyes at the time didn’t even know, or was about to know, that he was the next United manager, by Sir Alex himself in a face to face private meeting in his house. A lot of this can be verified using Moyes own recollection of him first learning that he was the next United manager. 

The new power combo-Moyes & Woodward

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These are the two men that Moyes and Woodward have replaced. Much depends on how well these two gel, and how alike their ideas are, especially when it comes to the transfer market. But judging by what i have seen so far, and my own take of events, it seems to me that Woodward is supportive of Moyes ideas and plans for the transfer market. I am going to explain this in detail, but first lets look at what United’s transfer strategy was, at least in my opinion and with my own interpretation of events this summer. 

United’s summer transfer strategy

When Moyes got the job, we said we are after top class players and that we need a midfielder. He said that signings will probably happen late in the window, and its possible that no signings could happen at all, and i feel this is mainly because the transfer strategy chosen was ambitious, but risky. The image (Table 1) below is an illustration of United’s summer transfer strategy. 

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NOTE: I am going to explain the image above thoroughly, so you will probably have to reference the image a few times. Therefore, its best if you try to open that image in a new tab on your browser, so that that you can read the explanation of the image above and at the same time easily look at the image. This is for your convenience. 

Image explanation

Step No. = Each step of United’s transfer strategy, and contingency plan if and when the prior step fails. So, say if Step 1 fails, then they move on to Step 2, and so and forth. 

Players = The 6 players listed in the image, are transfer targets at some stage of the window. In each step, their name either appears (which means they are being chased at that step) or the name is replaced by a maroon block (which means that they are not being chased in that step temporarily, or the target is no longer being chased permanently for the remainder of the summer transfer window.

Pound Sterling = The estimated cost of acquiring all the players in each step. The prices are estimated, naturally, because no one knows for sure what each player’s going rate is. 

Points = This stands for “utility”, which is economics lingo/jargon for “satisfaction”. Each player brings with him a certain quality, from which fans gain utility, or in other words, satisfaction. A fan is more likely to consider signing Reus as more satisfactory than signing Young, since the former is a better player (quality-wise) than the latter. So, the Points tally in this image is the total satisfaction (or utility) of signing all the transfer targets in each Step Number. Points can even be interpreted as Quality points of players signed in each step. 10/10 is the best quality rating, 1/10 is the worst quality rating.

Points per player = This is simply, (Points) divided by (Total players in each Step Number, assuming they are all signed). So, Points per player stands for average utility (or average satisfaction, or average quality of players signed) derived from the signing of players in each Step Number.

Pound Sterling per point = This is amount of money spent acquiring each Point (of quality, or satisfaction, or utility).

The image (Table 2) below lists the Cost and Points, of each transfer target. 

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United transfer strategy. Step by Step

Now that the image above has been introduced, and the terms explained, lets now look at each step in the transfer strategy. We will look at trends we have exhibited in the transfer market, and try to plot what will/could happen in the last few days of the transfer window.

Step 1 (Thiago +CR7/Bale + Baines)

Moyes admitted in mid-July that we are short in midfield. Its obvious to me that we were chasing Thiago for weeks before that. His father, Mazinho, confirmed that we wanted him and were negotiating a contract/terms with him. There wasn’t much point of submitting an offer in Barcelona for him, until Thiago agreed terms with us. It seems he kept delaying everything, and was waiting for Bayern and Pep to make their interest formal, which they ended up doing despite us courting him for many weeks. Finally, Bayern showed their formal interest, especially through “that” press conference by Pep, terms agreed (no surprise, since Bayern and/or Pep was his first choice over United), and then submitted an offer to Barcelona, and they took him. Had it not been for Bayern, i am certain we would have got him. 

Its obvious to me that our main transfer target all summer has been Cristiano Ronaldo (CR7). Rumours of talks between United, CR7 and Real Madrid have been all over the papers throughout the summer, and much before that as well. I think United knew there was a chance of getting CR7 this summer, so saved most of their transfer budget for trying to get him. Real Madrid sensing trouble decided to chase Bale, but they knew that other clubs too could get interested for a lower fee (50-70 million), and among the interested clubs in Bale’s signature were probably United. I think Moyes would settle for Bale, if Real Madrid refused to sell CR7 and/or CR7 didn’t want to return to Old Trafford this summer. So, Real Madrid deliberately hiked up Bale’s price by using the media, and Tottenham more than happily obliged because they don’t care as long as they get maximum transfer fee from his sale, and selling to a club outside the EPL was an added bonus especially for Levy. 

There was a bid for Baines in June itself, and was rejected towards the end of the month. The bid was said to be around 10-12 million pounds. This fee, along with probable fee for Thiago, and the big fee saved up for a CR7 (or even a Bale bid) amounts to around 100 million pounds which i estimate is the size of our transfer budget. After the Baines bid was rejected, we couldn’t go any higher than that, since we had transfer funds earmarked for the Thiago and CR7/Bale transfer.

Step 2 (Fabregas +CR7/Bale)

Mid-July, Thiago has gone to Bayern, and we temporarily withdrew from the Baines chase near the end of June. Moyes said our main priority was a central midfielder. So, after losing out on Thiago, we immediately bid for Fabregas, assuming we got some hints from his agent, Fabregas himself, or maybe even Barcelona. It is possible that Barcelona hinted that there is a price for Fabregas signature, because not everything they say in the media is the truth. Thiago said that Barcelona privately didn’t even try to keep him despite Barcelona saying in the media that they wanted Thiago to stay. Its possible, but who knows at the end of the day. I don’t think United would make a blind bid for a player, since we have never done so in the past. Either Fabregas, or his agent or maybe even Barcelona said he is available for the right price. Since 60 million out of the total 100 million transfer budget is still being earmarked for a CR7/Bale push, we couldn’t bid more than 40 million pounds for Fabregas. That is why we bid low, and slowly raised the bid, but never crossed the 40 million pounds milestone, because most of the money was reserved for CR7, or maybe even a Bale bid, but getting CR7 was more likely than landing Bale (especially because Real Madrid were interested in Bale, and because Spurs/Levy hates United). Assuming we calculated that Real Madrid would be willing to sell CR7 for the right price (after buying Bale themselves), Real Madrid could still increase the CR7 asking price (they did that with Higuain and Arsenal) and so we wanted to save a little extra money for the CR7 bid, so we didn’t even make our bid for Fabregas reach 40 million. Had the Fabregas bid been successful, and due to money reserved for CR7/Bale deal, we didn’t bid for anyone else at this stage since we used up all our transfer funds.

Step 3 (Baines + Fellaini + CR7/Bale)

This is currently the step we are on. The 60 million for CR7 is held in reserve, and United feel they can land Baines and Fellaini for a combined fee of maximum 40 million. We naturally made the opening dual bid for the 2 Everton players as low as possible, in order to a.) save some money in case we need it for the CR7 push, and b.) which idiot goes all out in the first bid itself? Anyways, this is where we are. At the time of writing, the Bale rumours to MUFC have resurfaced (at the time of writing, the United-Chelsea match ended less than an hour ago). Assuming its true, it may be that United are trying to pressure Real Madrid into selling us CR7, by threatening to buy Bale if they don’t let us have CR7. I am firmly in the camp that feel CR7 wants to rejoin United, and that he doesn’t want to sign an extension at Madrid. There were reports in the summer that United met CR7, and offered him 50 million pounds/euros as a signing on fee if he joined us for fee in the summer of 2015 (which is when his contract expires). If CR7 agreed to that, then Real Madrid would have to sell him this year for maximum value and buy his replacement (Bale, i feel) using that, or sell him for cheaper next year but make up for that shortfall by selling another player this year (Di Maria, Ozil, etc), or just keep CR7 for the next 2 years and then let go of him for free in summer 2015. I don’t think Real Madrid will let CR7 walk for free, so maybe United’s plan to get CR7 is worth gambling on. I certainly applaud and appreciate the effort United, Moyes and Woodward have put into trying to get CR7 back this year. I don’t know if it will succeed, but they definitely tried their best. 

Step 4 (Baines + Modric)

Everton aren’t likely to sell 2 of their best players (Baines and Fellaini) to United, that too near the end of the window when they have very little time to buy replacements. If Step 3 failed, then i think in Step 4 they will continue to find out at what valuation Everton would sell Baines and Fellaini as separate players instead of a joint bid. In Step 4, the bid for CR7 would have failed (whether Real Madrid not wanting to sell him and/or CR7 not wanting to return this summer). But, Real Madrid probably still might want to sell one player, and we could then put in a big bid for Modric, since they have a lot of central midfielders. Should that bid be accepted, then i expect United will buy Modric. Then they will buy Baines, and ignore Fellaini. 

Step 5 (Baines + Fabregas)

This step would literally be 2-3 days before the window closes (2nd September is the last day of the window). After we gain Everton’s individual valuation of Baines and Fellaini, we will have failed with moves for CR7 and Modric, and this would release a lot of funds. Those funds could then go for a final big offer for Fabregas. Telegraph reported a while back that we could return with a late, big bid for Fabregas. I expect such a bid to be around 45 million pounds. If Barcelona truly have a price at which they are prepared to sell Fabregas, then this bid will probably give them real food for thought. But, with the remaining money in the transfer budget, i think we will ignore Fellaini and just buy Baines from Everton. 

Step 6 (Baines + Fellaini)

Now we would be into the last 1-2 days of the window. If bids for CR7, Fabregas, Modric, and maybe even Bale, fail, then i expect we will try to persuade Everton to sell us Baines and Fellaini, which won’t be easy to do. But we would then be able to more than comfortably match their valuation on the 2 players (assuming its realistic and not absurd), and then take both of them to Old Trafford. 

Step 7

Last roll of the dice. If Everton are determined not to sell us both Fellaini and Baines, then we will probably only go for Fellaini, meet their valuation (assuming realistic) and buy him. 

Findings and assessment of transfer strategy

1.) First the obvious, at United it is the manager that picks and chooses the targets and has some degree of influence as to who to bid for and how much to bid for him, but of course in the latter it is the CEO that has a huge and bigger influence than the manager. But both Moyes and Woodward, i feel, are working together on this transfer strategy

2.) CR7 was the main target throughout the transfer window. Most of the transfer funds were saved so that we can place a big bid for him in case Real Madrid were open to selling him once they signed Bale. A move by us for Bale was/is possible as well, but was always unlikely since Spurs would have made it a lot harder for us (price-wise) to buy Bale than Real Madrid. So, the CR7 could have been used to buy Bale, in case Real Madrid screwed up and Spurs softened up towards us (more likely that the Apocalypse is tomorrow). The only way we would bid big money (40m+) for other transfer targets (like Fabregas) is if the CR7 move failed. 

3.) At every Step, we bid for a central midfielder. CR7 was meant to be the the marquee signing, but the necessity no matter what was a central midfielder, and that could be someone as amazing as Fabregas, or someone less amazing like Fellaini, but who is determined by how much free money is actually available this window (since till Step 3, which we are in right now, most of the money is being saved up for an upcoming move for CR7, or one even more unlikely which is Bale. 

4.) Based on the bidding pattern, Fellaini is Moyes last choice of central midfielders to bring in. Thiago was probably his first choice, due to the fact that he was a quality player, available, and cheapest out of all the alternatives (Fabregas, Modric, Fellaini, etc). He seemed to want to join us, but it seems he kept delaying agreeing terms as long as possible till Bayern came in, which they did, and off he went to them since they and Pep were his first choice. 

5.) At no Step did we bid for more than 1 central midfielder. To me, it is clear that Moyes only wants only midfielder, and not 2 or more. He wasn’t willing to buy a midfielder that he felt wasn’t proven enough, hence no bid for Strootman, etc. Also, he might have been interested in Paulinho, but by time he entered the transfer market, in mid-July, Paulinho had already been signed by Spurs. Pretty much the same for Wanyama too, except he joined Southampton. 

6.) Baines was initially the bigger target for Moyes than Fellaini, but this was in Step 1, when he felt we could get Thiago and most of the rest of the money was reserved for a CR7 or Bale bid. When the money didn’t permit, he sacrificed Baines to raise funds for what he felt were more important transfer targets, which were a.) 1 central midfielder, and b.) marquee signing (CR7/Bale), and this happened in Step 2 (Baines was dropped from the transfer target list.

7.) Moyes probably rates Modric higher than Fellaini, but he doesn’t bid for him until Step 4, because in the previous 3 steps Moyes was trying to get CR7, and its very unlikely Real Madrid would sell us both CR7 and Modric in the same transfer window. So, Moyes might only bid for Modric in Step 4, when bids for CR7/Bale have failed, since Real Madrid might be open to selling Modric, if not CR7. Should the move for Modric fail, then a big bid is made for Fabregas, and if that fails, then Fellaini becomes the main CM target. 

Current Central Midfield evaluation, along with CM targets effect

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Table 3 houses 3 sub-tables. 

In Table 3a, individual quality points of each current CM at the club, and CM transfer targets are listed. 

In Table 3b, the total quality points of current first choice CM partnerships is listed, along with potential first choice CM partnerships is also listed. The average quality points of each partnership is also shown. Since Moyes never bid for 2 CMs at the same time, and since Carrick is the undisputed best, and most experienced, CM that we have, he will certainly be one of the first choice CMs, even if a CM transfer target is bought. Also, i don’t think Moyes would buy a CM for big money just to put that player on the bench. So, whichever CM that Moyes does buy, assuming he does buy someone, then that player will most likely be Carrick’s partner in central midfield.

In Table 3c, we look at the current CM average squad depth quality, and future quality if a CM transfer target is bought. We only have 3 CMs (Carrick, Cleverley, Anderson), and since we need at least 4, the total quality points of those 3 players is added up and divided by 4, thus showing that we do lack depth in CM. We then see what the average CM squad depth quality would be if we get one of our CM transfer targets. So, even though Fellaini has the same quality points as Anderson or Cleveley, the average CM squad depth quality still increases dramatically. Same can be seen if any other CM transfer target was added instead of Fellaini. Moyes recognises the need for another CM, but is trying to get the best one possible this transfer window.

Impact on transfer targets, if bought, on starting 11 quality and squad depth quality 

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Table 4, will now be explained. To understand it you will also need to refer to Table 2 (for player prices) and Table 3c

Starting 11 points explanation: If a transfer target is bought, and he is better than a current player of the same position in the starting 11, then that new player gets into the starting 11 (first team) and adds quality points. Example, Fellaini quality-wise is the same as Cleverley and Anderson, so he doesn’t necessarily get into the starting 11, therefore adds zero quality points, so can technically count as money wasted. Thiago has 1 more point than Cleverley and Anderson each, so he partners Carrick in the first team, and his presence adds 1 extra quality points to the quality of the starting 11. 

Evra is rated as the best LB at United, and has 7 quality points. Baines, a transfer target, has 8 quality points. So if Baines is bought, then he replaces Evra in the starting 11, and he adds 1 extra quality point, since he is 1 quality point better than Evra. 

The highest rated wingers at United, are Nani and Valencia, both have 7 quality points each. If CR7 is bought, then he replaces on them in the starting 11, and adds 3 extra quality points to the lineup, since he is a player rated with 10 quality points. 

So, if Thiago, Baines and CR7 are bought, then all 3 players make it into the starting 11, and combined they add 5 quality points to the starting 11.

Cost per quality point added to starting 11: This is simply, quality points added to the starting 11 at each Step, divided by the transfer fee required to buy those players. Transfer fees information is available in Table 2. 

Squad depth points explanation: Each player bought adds quality points to the squad depth of the position he plays in. Average CM depth quality (Table 3c) currently at United is 5.25 points. If Thiago is added, then the average rises to 7 points. So, Thiago signing for United, adds 1.75 quality points to the average CM depth quality. 

Evra is rated at 7 points, Buttner and Fabio at 5 points each. Therefore, the Average LB depth quality is rated at 5.6 points. Baines is rated at 8 points, so buying him would raise the Average LB depth quality by 0.65 points, to 6.25 points. 

Nani, Valencia, Zaha and Young are rated at 7, 7, 6, and 5 points. So, the Average Winger depth quality is rated at 6.25 points. CR7 is rated at 10 points, so adding him increases the squad depth average by 0.75 points, to 7 points.

So, if Thiago, CR7 and Baines are bought, then they add 3.15 quality points to the squad positions they play at. 

Cost per squad depth quality point : This can be calculated by dividing squad depth quality points added at each Step, by cost of buying those players.

Findings : Step 2 (Fabregas+CR7) adds the most quality to the starting 11 and is reasonably cheap. The high cost (all 100 million transfer budget spent) in getting those 2 players is made for the fact that they bring in a lot of quality to the starting 11. In terms of adding quality to the squad depth, this Step is also the best, but one of the most expensive. We learn that Fellaini would be great value for money in terms of adding to the squad depth quality, but would be a waste of money if ones expects him to add quality to the starting 11. Buying both Baines and Fellaini (Step 6) would be very expensive, and not worth it when it comes to adding quality to the starting 11. But, this Step would add squad depth quality, and for a reasonably cheap price. 

Is Ed Woodward supporting Moyes? Is Ed incompetent?

Most United fans have been bashing Ed, calling him an idiot, or a Glazer slave, or completely unfit to be handling United’s transfer business. First of all, i don’t think he is an idiot, and his CV can’t belong to an idiot. He is supportive of the Glazers, but they know that supporting United and letting us spend is good for business and the club, so i don’t see why Ed would go against their best interests. Finally, Ed may be incompetent and unfit to be David Gill’s successor, but only time will for sure. I think he will make it as a very good CEO if we give him the time. He is said to be a very good negotiator and as clever as a fox, so i think he can succeed in his new role as well. Its not like Ed has no experience when it comes to transfers, because he did say that we worked with Sir Alex on transfers in the past, so he probably does has some experience, but hasn’t exhibited it just yet. I think Ed has been supportive of Moyes, and both have formed a decent early partnership. I will explain why.

1.) Moyes is after a stellar signing, and Ed said that United would be willing to spend 60-70 million on a top signing that Moyes wants. 

2.) Woodward kept negotiating with Thiago for weeks, till the last days before he joined Bayern. Thiago was Moyes first choice central midfield target, and Woodward did what Moyes instructed/requested. During the tour, Moyes hinted that a player could join United while the tour was going on, and that was probably Thiago, so Woodward was working on this transfer for weeks. 

3.) The reason we didn’t make much bigger bids for Fabregas (as every United wanted) was because Moyes was after CR7/Bale. So, due to a lot of the transfer budget being reserved for bids for one of those two players, Woodward could never bid 40 million+ for Fabregas. I am sure Woodward knew at the time that Fabregas was worth more than he had bid, but the financial restraints due to other transfer targets prevented him from doing so, and made him and us look like fools. 

4.) Woodward probably felt that landing Fabregas for cheap (Step 2) was unrealistic, and playing the waiting game for CR7/Bale would result in a lot of time spent/wasted. All this time spent would probably mean that Fellaini’s release clause would expire (Martinez confirms the clause expired on 31st July) much before the Fabregas chase yielded a final response (Fabregas released his statement, on not leaving Barca, around 8th August). Woodward is not an idiot, and he probably anticipated these things would happen, and it did. Now, Everton have the final say on whether or not we can have Fellaini, assuming we have no other choice but him as our central midfield target (Step 6-7). Moyes certainly had higher priority targets for central midfield, and so Ed didn’t activate Fellaini’s release clause before its expiry date (31st July). 

5.) Ed Woodward was part of the United party when they went on tour. He was due to be with the squad for a few more days, but cancelled the plan and went back to Europe due to urgent transfer business. This was around the time Thiago rejected us for Bayern, and we had now made Fabregas our main central midfield target (Step 2). Flying half was across the world, on a moments notice, is not a joke. He did that because United/Moyes needed him to, and so he did what he was supposed to do. 

6.) Most United fans call Ed an idiot for the opening Baines bid, around 10-12 million. Yes, it was far less than Baines true worth and i am sure Ed knew that, but look at it from Ed’s point of view, which is, a.) who doesn’t start off with the lowest bid possible? b.) Financial restraints in Step 1, due to most money saved for CR7 and Thiago bids, meant he couldn’t just bid 20 million for Baines. He did what any sensible CEO would do (i know his title isn’t CEO, but he is effectively acting like a CEO, like David Gill was). He probably planned to raise the bid for Baines.  The transfer budget i estimate is 100 million pounds, of which 60 million or so was saved for CR7. The remainder was saved for Thiago and Baines, but once Thiago had gone to Bayern, the central midfield target was now Fabregas. Since Fabregas was going to be far more expensive than Thiago, the bidding for Baines stopped after that initial bid (which was rejected). 

Final Notes

1.) The prices of players, and quality points, is subjective. So, knowing that and after explaining the format of the tables, you should be able to construct your own table, with your own values, findings, opinions, etc. 

2.) It’s possible that United could change their transfer targets. Rumours been going around recently (at the time of writing) that we could be interested in buying Bale if we dont get CR7, or maybe even getting Ozil. This could happen, but i think its very unlikely Bale will join us, since Real Madrid want him and Spurs hate us. As for Ozil, its possible that we can get him, but it can only happen if CR7 doesn’t join us this summer. So, its possible that we could end up with Ozil and one or two other players. The main thing i am very certain of is that Moyes will do anything to get one CM signing, and a marquee signing too (if the CM doesn’t count as a marquee signing, such as Fellaini). 

3.) I am confident we had a transfer budget of around 70 million pounds net, last season. I expect the transfer budget to be higher than that, probably between 80-100 million, but some speculate even higher than that, so i am went for the middle ground, which was 100 million pounds net. This is a realistic transfer budget, due to increases in sponsorship revenue and EPL league TV payments. 

Conclusion

Ed Woodward doesn’t look like an idiot to me, nor do his actions paint him as one, especially if my interpretation of events this summer are accurate. Woodward and Moyes seem to be working with each other, and do have a strategy. Moyes is most likely the one who chose this transfer strategy, which is risky, but very ambitious. I applaud his ambition, which is helped by the fact that if his strategy fails, then he still has a good squad to rely on since it won the league last year by a big margin. He seems intent on buying a central midfielder, and i think he will end up getting someone. He wants that player to be a quality CM, but he would settle for a lesser player if he had no other choice. I am sure he realises that his transfer strategy this summer was very risky, but as a United supporter, i am comfortable with it because he is showing ambition. Its clear to me that Moyes is in charge of the transfer business, and that he has the support of Woodward, and the financial backing of the Glazers. Even if the transfer strategy flops, and lets say he only ends up with Fellaini, that won’t change the fact that Woodward and Glazers gave Moyes full financial backing. It is a risky strategy Moyes chose, some fans will accept the consequences if it fails, and some will throw their toys out of the pram. The question is, will fans honour Sir Alex Ferguson’s desire/wish/command of supporting Moyes and standing by him? I know some won’t, but i most certainly will, because i think he was the best man for the job. I wasn’t sure when he was appointed, but he convinced me pretty fast since then. Also, if Sir Alex thinks he is the best man for the job, then who knows better than him? Those saying that Sir Alex chose Moyes because he was going to be a Glazer-slave, or other candidates declined (Pep, Mourinho, etc) are just trying to stir up trouble, with no facts to back them. Such fans take much delight in playing the devil’s advocate even when its not required, and its best to ignore them and let them gossip like little girls in a corner. Unfortunately, twitter is filled with such idiots, and we have to read their nonsense opinions a lot more than we want to. 

Moyes will learn that he can’t satisfy the entire United fanbase when it comes to transfers and the transfer market. Had he bought Fellaini and Strootman, some fans would have applauded him for acting decisively in the market, whereas another group of fans would have been after his head for not going after the top quality players, and would have branded him a Glazer-slave for trying to save the clubs money. Moyes can’t please all the fan groups, but i am happy that he showed ambition, even though its a risky strategy he has employed.

United fans, most of them, are behaving as if managing Manchester United in real life is like playing Football Manager 2013. I have explained this in much detail in a previous article, so i will just leave the link to it below. 

https://khalid7891234.wordpress.com/2013/08/24/united-fans-this-summer-are-like-pacific-rim-when-it-comes-to-transfers/

United fans this summer, are like Pacific Rim when it comes to transfers

23rd August 2013. Still no signings.

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After years of supporting United, i thought i had seen everything the United fanbase had to offer. But this summer, thanks especially to twitter, i have seen things i haven’t seen from United, which is fans begging for signings. But not just any signings. Signings can be world class, or decent players, or maybe even some rubbish players. Basically, fans don’t care who we sign at the moment, they just want us to get someone. I can understand their frustration, because i too am pretty frustrated. I was hoping we would have a couple of signings by now, but nothing as of yet has materialised.

Moyes said he is only after world class players, and if we fail to get them, then we will promote young players in the club. Is this the right approach?

Yes, and no, is my answer. I feel if world class players aren’t available, then we should promote the young players we have in the squad and academy, but there are none in the academy that can play the role we want them to play then its best to get any good/decent player that can do the job. This commitment to the youth is something that Moyes talked about and promised when he took the job. Back then he was hailed and fans said he was continuing United’s traditions of youth development and continuing United’s personification of Sir Matt’s famous line “if you are good enough, you are old enough”. But now, some of those very same fans are saying that if world class players aren’t available, then just sign anyone that is a decent player. Doesn’t this conflict with our commitment to youth? Where are the likes of Januzaj, Lingard, Powell, Henriquez, Pereira, Michael Keane, etc, going to play if we just sign decent first team players that will never be world class and the only purpose they will serve is blocking the route of the kids to the first team squad? As i said, decent/good players should only be signed if world class ones aren’t available, and if our academy has no players that can fill the void at least somewhat reasonably. 

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Lets look at who we know we have bid for, or were interested in to some extent, this summer. 

1.) Thiago. Our first saga of the summer. Couldn’t agree terms, for whatever reason. But it seems he preferred Bayern from the start, along with Pep. Good player, with world class potential, and a central midfielder which we badly needed even before Scholes retired. We tried, but failed.

2.) Fabregas. Our second saga of the summer. Didn’t get any bids accepted, but we surely must have gotten encouragement from him or his agent. Our last bid was close to his valuation i feel, but Barca were always unlikely to sell a midfielder just after they sold Thiago.

3.) Strootman. Everyone said he was in the bag, and then it turned out that it was never a done deal, we never even bid for him. I wanted us to get him. He is a good player, with world class potential in my opinion, but Moyes felt otherwise i suppose, which i can kind of understand since he didn’t play too well in this summers U-21 tournament. 

We had a chance of signing each of them, how big or small that chance may have been. All of them are central midfielders, and lets look at other CMs that fans blame Moyes for not signing that have transferred elsewhere in this transfer window. Moyes officially started the job on the 1st of July, met the squad a few days later. He took a couple of weeks to assess the quality, strengths and weaknesses of the squad he inherited, and so no transfer decisions were made until his assessment of the squad was complete. I had mentioned all of this in a previous article i wrote, a couple of weeks ago, and Moyes pretty much confirmed what i said in a recent interview with Sky Sports. Link to that is here (video is no longer available on Sky, so got a transcript from elsewhere):

http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/sport/football/premier-league/manchester-united/david-moyes-admits-signing-new-players-for-manchester-united-is-difficult-for-me-29504105.html

Therefore, i don’t agree with fans opinion that Moyes should have signed the following players. 

1.) Paulinho. He joined Spurs on the 6th of July. So, how could Moyes possibly have signed Paulinho? I don’t agree with fans backlash against Moyes for not signing him. 

2.) Wanyama. He transferred on 11th of July. How could Moyes have signed him?

3.) Gustavo. He very recently joined Wolfsburg. He is a pretty good player, and i wanted United to sign him because he would give us something different. He is a pure defensive midfielder, that can tackle well and make good interceptions. His passing and technique is pretty decent. But i can understand if Moyes didn’t want to sign him, because i had difficulty envisioning where he was going to play. Since Carrick our main CM, he starts most games, and so would have Gustavo. But both like to stay deep, and that just won’t have worked out too well because the gap between them and the forwards would have been too big. 

We lost Thiago to Bayern, because he wanted them and Pep. Fair enough. Moyes didn’t think Strootman was good enough. Fair enough. We didn’t land Fabregas. Now this is the main issue with a lot of United fans. Most think we wasted time trying to sign him. But tell me, how many top class CMs were in the market before we moved in and tried to sign him? Which other top class CMs could we have tried to get, that we would have had a much better chance of signing than Fabregas (even after accounting for the fact that getting Fabregas was a long shot)? If i am not mistaken, Fabregas was the first CM we bid for after Moyes had completed his assessment of the squad (we talked to Thiago supposedly, but didn’t bid for him). Up till that moment, all available CMs had gone, Thiago, Paulinho, etc. At that moment, the only ones left. were not only top class CMs, but were very difficult to get, such as Fabregas, Modric, etc. So, if we wasted time bidding for Fabregas, then which top CM could he have bid for instead, that was as good as him, and more likely to sign for us? Answers on a postcard (i hate this phrase, but using it anyway). Before you say Modric, he is a favourite of Ancelotti, and if i am not mistaken, it was he that tried to sign him while he was still Chelsea manager, and Modric joined Real Madrid just one year back.

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Remember that Moyes said we will only go for world class players, and if we can’t get them, then we will promote young players within the club. I feel he would also consider buying youngsters, from other clubs, that have world class potential, if we can’t get top class players and if the current youth teamers in the club don’t fit the bill for the position Moyes wants to address. This is the correct, and wise approach in my opinion. Only in desperate situations should we just buy players that aren’t world class, but whether United’s central midfield is amazing or not, this is the central midfield we used to win the league last year, and lose out on goal difference to City the year before that. We don’t need bodies as badly as people think we do, even though Scholes retired, but most would agree his performances weren’t as good as years gone by. We have a young Powell coming through. If we don’t get a top CM, then shouldn’t we just give Powell a chance? If not, then what is the point of the youth academy and its players, if we don’t trust them and give them chances? Aren’t we blocking their path to the first team squad if we just sign average players?

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Over the past few days, some United fans have been going ape shit on twitter saying we should be signing Willian. Why? Just because he is a good player? He prefers playing on the left wing, for which we already have Nani, who is as good as Willian if not better, and Young, who is average at best. Signing Willian could improve the left wing options. He has no chance of playing as a CAM, due to Rooney and Kagawa. No chance of playing on the right wing due to Valencia and Zaha. If we were to sign Willian, where the hell are Lingard and Januzaj going to play? Ever since preseason, fans have been begging United for putting both youngsters in the first team squad, but how are these two going to get chances if we sign Willian? As it is, LW, CAM and RW, have 2 options in each role even before Januzaj and Lingard are considered. That is why, during this summer, i have realised that some United fans have the Pacific Rim mentality. 

Didn’t get what i meant? Let me elaborate.

Around 2 weeks ago, me, my younger brother, and my cousins went for a movie. I wanted to watch Wolverine, but my eldest cousin (lets call him, D) wanted to watch Pacific Rim, and he persuaded the others, even though he already watched it before. I saw the ratings online and heard it was uber shit, but majority wins, so i went. Bought the biggest bucket of caramel popcorn, and a pepsi without ice (they didn’t have coke). Got in my seat next to D, 5 minutes after the movie started. The hall was pretty empty. Movie was crap, and totally overrated. It flattered to deceive, and tried to be very fancy (just like some United fans when it comes to their knowledge on how to run a football club). Only entertainment was some of the action scenes, and the fight for the popcorn. But the one thing i learnt from this movie was that D had a fetish for big robots and/or big monster movies. No matter how shit the movie is, he will still go to the cinema to watch it, twice. This eureka moment happened during the movie, and i kept turning my head slowly to see D’s face during the movie. He was so into the movie (giggling, wide eyes, etc), loved the fighting scenes, cheesy dialogue and jokes. After the movie, and on the way back, he kept defending the movie after i kept saying i would rate it as 2/10. 

Just like how D has a fetish for such movies (no matter how bad they are), some United fans have a fetish for collecting good players, even though we may be stacked in a certain position. So many United fans want Willian, even though there is no space to fit him in. We do have a little space since Young is average, or maybe even as crap as Pacific Rim, but shouldn’t that that little space be used to squeeze in a young, talented player from the academy, like Januzaj or Lingard? Most of these fans that want Willian, also want those two youngsters promoted. Where is all this space coming from? Did i miss the memo where United can field more than 11 players at a time during a match? I watched Pandorum and Sunshine recently. Both were very good movies, but none were enough of a mindfuck to make me miss the memo so many other United fans seem to have gotten. There are many other players that some United fans want to buy, that are good (but not world class), even though we have no space for them in the squad. 

PS: How do most of these United fans know Willian is so good? Did they watch the Ukrainian league regularly while he was there? Do they watch the Russian league on a weekly basis? Answer to both questions, is bullshit. Most of them just watched some youtube montage clips of Willian, and think he an amazing winger. Nani has some amazing youtube clips too, but i don’t see United fans giving him as much love as they are showering on Willian. Let a few years pass, and even Bebe will have a few sick montage videos. Would you then want to sign Bebe based on that? Willian is good, but not world class. Nani is as good as he is, and if United fans want Januzaj and/or Lingard to get chances, then walk the talk and beg United to put them in the squad instead of buying Willian.

Conclusion

Fergie told us to support Moyes, and any man with common sense knew that this summer was going to be a transition stage for Moyes and Ed Woodward, hence the bumpy ride. Both didn’t have time to plan out the summer campaign, since Moyes wasn’t the manager last season, and only got a chance to assess the squad in early July till mid July, and was assessing the squad while on tour mind you (so he didn’t even get a chance to look at every single player before he moved into the transfer market). After the assessment was done, the only CMs left, were the ones that can be personified by the great man below.

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Most of us wanted United to try and get a world class CM, and that is exactly what we have been trying to do. If the million to one moves for Modric and/or Fabregas fail, then we still have Fellaini as backup option, and i am willing to bet that he wants to join us, and Everton will agree to a deal if we bid their valuation, at least thats what Martinez words yesterday seemed to be hinting at. Personally, i don’t think Fellaini is world class, but i would take him if Moyes think Powell isn’t ready yet and if he thinks Fellaini is good enough.

But, i get a sense of comfort in the knowledge that we tried to get a world class CM, and seem to still be trying to get such a player. The coward’s way out would have been to just buy Fellaini right from the start, but Moyes stayed true to his word and tried to sign Fabregas, and possibly even Modric. Unfortunately, by the time Moyes was able to get into the transfer market, players that could have interested him (like Paulinho) had already been transferred. Moyes prefers signing players early in the transfer window, and that is what i expect will happen from next summer and onwards. If Ed Woodward is incompetent at transfers, then he too will learn and the experience till next summer will be a baptism of fire, just like David Gill learnt, but then again, he had it easier than Ed since he started his tenure as CEO while Fergie was manager, whereas Ed is not only the new CEO but he is also the CEO of a brand new United manager. This summer was always going to be a transition phase. 

But, i am confident that Moyes and Ed will sign a player or more before the window closes. Events of this summer won’t be repeated again, since the circumstances that dictated this summer’s transfer campaign are a one-off. Its not like we are going to get a new manager next year or a new CEO. There is a very interesting article on Moyes and his scouting/transfer assessment system, that i think everyone should read. I like Moyes method, and look forward to seeing it in full flow in next summer’s transfer window. 

http://www.independent.co.uk/sport/football/premier-league/scouting-system-that-reveals-david-moyes-mind-8756011.html

Moyes needs Januzaj/Zaha to continue United traditions & fix his youth problem

Introduction

As we all know, United is a keen developer of young, talented players.  Our history is rich with great examples, of players that just brought their talent to Old Trafford, and they were then moulded into great players. Some came through the whole system (academy to the first team) such as Scholes, Charlton, etc, and some joined the first team squad directly where they were given chances and they become top players (such as Cristiano Ronaldo). 

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The influx of money, globalisation, and the 90 minute academy rule (a FA rule, introduced in 1998, which single-handedly crippled English football club academies), and led the academy of many clubs in England (including United) to flooding the academy with some of the best young talent available from around the world. Of course, in the past 26 years the main man overlooking the academy and development of each youngster at Old Trafford was Sir Alex Ferguson. But he is now gone. Made a Director of the club, but no longer is he the manager. The man appointed to not just lead the club to trophies and victories, but to also continue United’s commitment to the development of young talent, is David Moyes. 

Moyes has already made it clear that he views the academy as a key feature of the club, and has assured the supporters of his commitment to making sure the academy is producing top class talent that can become fixtures of the first team squad, and will also be looking for top young talent from around the world for both the academy and first team. I have already mentioned in previous articles that Moyes is the best man for the job, especially when it comes to the success of the academy and United’s history of developing talented young players. 

But, in the past 26 years those young players came to United not just because of the clubs traditions, facilities, and stature in world football. They came here because of the trust they had in Sir Alex Ferguson, and in it they knew there was a man that walked the talk. The talk that Sir Alex said when he joined the club in 1986, is very similar to the one that Moyes said when he got the job. I am sure Moyes will walk that talk, and i am sure Sir Alex Ferguson, Sir Bobby Charlton, and the countless United supporters around the world will make sure that happens. 

Moyes problem-attracting top youngsters

But the tricky part is how do we convince the young talented players to come to us. There are numerous rich clubs clubs now (such as Chelsea, City, PSG, etc) that too will focus on their academy in the near future, due to UEFA competition rules, FFP and EPL rules. So, United already do have a lot of competition when it comes to securing talents of young players that other top clubs academies covet and its likely to increase in the future. Moyes doesn’t have the reputation of Sir Alex. I wouldn’t be surprised if we struggle to snap up the youngsters we would normally have gotten when Sir Alex was in charge. This is something Moyes is going to have to build on. When you think of big managers, you would normally be able to think of some young players that they developed into great players, and it is these success stories that make the current and future generation of young players want to develop under and play for such managers. I don’t feel Moyes quite has that reputation. Note, the eagerness Thiago has in joining Bayern and Pep Guardiola, over United and Moyes, assuming we were seriously interested in him.

Sure, he has developed young talent and turned into success stories. But how many of them turned into world players that every young football fan in the world has heard of? How many of them are aspiring footballers, and how many of them have heard of those success stories? How many of them will be thinking “i trust Moyes above most/all other managers will turn me into a top footballer”? Again, i reckon not many. A club like United, does need someone committed to developing young players, but the club also needs him to be among the A list names of managers that young, talented player will want to play for and develop under. So, its important that walking the talk happens as fast as possible. 

When we go through the list of talented, young players that Moyes could develop, we find quite a few names. But in order for them to develop into top players, they will need to play first team football, and this will help put their names, and by extension Moyes name as well (as their manager, or talent developer), into the minds of every talented young player that is choosing which top club to entrust his development with.

The 3 candidates to solve Moyes problem

The 3 obvious candidates out of the young players that could play some part in the first team this season, i feel, are Zaha, Januzaj and Lingard. 

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The tough part is, all 3 of them are attacking midfielders or wingers. That is an area we already have a lot of players in. Rooney and Kagawa for the CAM job, Valencia, Young and Nani for the wingers job. Assuming none of these first team players leave, and assuming there no attacking midfielders or wingers are bought, then there is space on the wings for one more player to get 10-20 games (sum of starts and substitute appearances), and maybe 10 or so games in the CAM department (mostly substitute appearances).

If that’s the case, then i can see Zaha getting the winger slot that is free, because not only is a natural winger, but also spent 15 million pounds on him and the fans will probably want to see such a player next season, especially given our history of having some of footballs finest wingers, someone like Zaha will be the one that most fans (out of the 3 names) will want to see on the wing next season. That leaves the few games open in the CAM role up for grabs, and arguably Januzaj and Lingard to fight for it. Lingard is the more experienced on the two, and i feel he is more ready that the Belgian. He seems physically stronger than him, and a little more mature when it comes to his decision making on the pitch. That is why i think Lingard will be given games at United, but then again Moyes might think he is at the stage where he needs many games, and might send him out on loan, so that might give the games to Januzaj instead. So, regarding those two, its completely depends on what Moyes wants to do, and if he wants to send one of the two on loan to another club. The only thing that most fans can be sure of is that Zaha will be given games on the wing this season, since he is the more experienced out of the trio, is a natural winger, and seems more ready that the other two, and he was arguably the most impressive player on United’s tour of Asia, but that is disputable since good cases can be made in favour of Januzaj or Lingard as well. 

So, it’s likely next season that the one who will be showcasing Moyes skills to the world as a youth developer is going to be Zaha. I am pretty sure he is going to have a good season. He is so talented, and confident, that i just don’t see any reason why he wont have a good season. Commentators on live matches will go and on about how Zaha could become the new CR7 (which kids all over the world will listen to due to the global popularity of United and especially the league), and some of the credit for his good performances will be be placed of Moyes doorstep, which is a good thing for Moyes and United. This is going to be crucial if we are to attract the best young talent in the UK to our academy and first team. The FA rules (90 minute academy rule) has been successfully bypassed by the Premier League thanks to the EPPP rules. More on the EPPP and how this will effect the United academy is in the link below:

https://khalid7891234.wordpress.com/2013/07/24/thoughts-on-the-united-academy-and-why-we-havent-produced-another-class-of-1992/

Fergie and Moyes tag team will take care of the problem

With a combination of Sir Alex and David Moyes, their contacts (scouts and agents) all around the country will maximise the benefits that could be extracted from this new rules (EPPP) governing the academy and development of young British talent. Successful development of Zaha into a top player will give Moyes a big name that he can use to attract the best young talents when he meets them and talks to their family. 

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But, we do have some foreign talents in the academy and first team squad. They were all brought in by Sir Alex, including one of the most impressive performers on the tour, Adnan Januzaj. These foreign players tend to have to overcome cultural differences and different football philosophies when they come to the England and join the United academy. So, its likely that Moyes is going to have to succeed in developing a foreign talent, so that he can show to the fans, and the next generation of upcoming young players all around the world, that he too can look after them and put them on the path to greatness. Which means he is probably going to have to succeed with someone who is foreign as well, like Januzaj, or Andreas Pereira. 

Sir Alex will probably use his new role as a director to help get these young talented players from around the world. This was an area that Moyes would initially struggle in, but i am sure Sir Alex will lend a hand. His presence as a football legend and ambassador of the club would increase the clubs chances of landing any youngster we feel is good enough for United. Although i am a cynic and don’t feel Sir Alex would have a primary role in decision making in the board room (note, SAF hated twitter and immediately after he retired United moved into twitter, last EPL club to do so), the pragmatist in me feels that Moyes would lean on Sir Alex Ferguson’s experience and wealth of contacts, so that would give Fergie a route into influencing decisions and the future of the club. 

Influx of money, globalisation, and FA’s 90 minutes rule forced the club to decrease scouting in the UK, and was the catalyst that made the club form a strong network or contact and scouts in certain regions, such as Europe and South America. The introduction of the EPPP rule, Sir Alex new role as a director and ambassador, along with Moyes own set of contacts, will increase scouting in the UK and probably bring through another British generation of talented young players such as the Class of 1992. But, the network of contacts built in other parts of the world will not be tossed away, because the financial benefits are too great and United has become a bigger global force now than it was is 1992 or 1998. So, Moyes, Ferguson, and United, will team up and not just continue, but also refine United’s tradition of developing talented young players and making the academy as well known around the world as the academy at La Masia (Barcelona).

Conclusion

I am sure Moyes will walk the talk, and do well when it comes to developing the young players and making our academy even better than it was before. But, i feel he might struggle to attract the best young talents since he doesn’t have a big, well known reputation all around the world, and especially in the younger generations mind, because most of them didn’t have a clue who he was until he become the United manager. I think he is going to need some early success stories, like Zaha, or  Januzaj, or Pereira, etc. Sir Alex will help Moyes, and Moyes will ask for help, and both will form a tag team that all EPL clubs will envy, and sometime in the future could rival, maybe even trump, any continental club when it comes to securing the best youngsters. 

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Why we were right to lose out on Hazard and Moura.

One of the biggest questions i keep seeing on the internet is whether we were right, or wrong, to miss out on Hazard? Were we right not to pay the big wages he wanted? What about Moura? Were we right to miss out on him? That is what i am going to cover in this segment.

1.) Moura

Last summer it seemed we were on the verge of getting him. We had a fee agreed with his club, his agent, and wages were agreed as well (according to his agent). Then PSG, newly rich, forced their way into the saga in the 11th hour, offered him the pretty city of Paris, some more Brazilians, and maybe more money. There are conflicting reports on how much more money was Moura offered by PSG than what United were offering him. Whatever it is that we offered him was accepted by Moura and his agent, which his agent confirms. Moura was also offered more money by PSG, than United, which he himself confirmed. Some reports say he is on 50,000 pounds per week, some say it 200,000 pounds per week. Then there is the complication about the 75% tax rate, and whether or not PSG pay their players taxes, which would mean the Monaco effect (tax free wages). Its difficult to say what the situation was, until more facts come out. But considering the fact that PSG were newly rich then, and very determined to get him, i suspect the PSG offered him a lot more money than we did, so i don’t blame us for losing out on him. But i need more facts to come out before i can say what actually happened. 

2.) Hazard

We had a fee agreed with Lille, which was supposedly over 30 million pounds. Chelsea too had a deal agreed with them, for a similar evaluation. His agent said we had wages and agent fees agreed as well, along with Chelsea and City. But he ended up choosing Chelsea. Why? Maybe because Manchester is not London, maybe because his agent was getting a bigger fee from Chelsea than from us, or maybe because he was being offered higher wages by Chelsea than us, or maybe he really did only want to join the Champions League winners. Lets look at these 4 main factors one by one:

i.) London living

Many choose living in London than Manchester. But, everyone is different, so its not necessary that he choose Chelsea over United due to the London-effect. Fact is, we don’t know, and we probably will never know how much this factor played in his decision.

ii.) Agent Fees

His agent did say that we had passed the negotiation stage and all interested parties (rumoured to be us, Chelsea and City) had sorted out all the factors (wage, agent fees, etc), and now the final decision was up to Hazard. But the manner in which Sir Alex expressed his disgust with how much Chelsea paid Hazard’s agent leads me to conclude that we were willing to pay far less to Hazard’s agent, than what Chelsea were willing to pay. But, i am not sure how big a factor this was, since his agent said we had everything agreed, and the decision was now Hazard’s. 

iii.) Wages

It’s rumoured that Hazard is making between 150,000-180,000 pounds per week, which i am sure is more than what United would have offered. Sure he is young, talented, could be a potential FIFA World Player of the Year winner in a few years time, but so are dozens of other talents that are the same age as him or younger. So many talents don’t reach the peak that everyone thinks they will reach, such as Ricardo Quaresma, who is the same age as Cristiano Ronaldo, and when both were 18 years old, it was Quaresma that most people thought would be the better of the two. Look how that one turned out. Or how about Denilson, who Betis paid a world record fee for, and he ended becoming a colossal flop. Fact is, when it comes to buying talented young players, that have the world at the feet, it is very rewarding if you buy the winning ticket (of which there are few) and very damaging if you get a dud (of which there are many). When United pay out of the ass for a top young talent, they will never, never, never, offer big wages to him (even if they pay a very high transfer fee). Why? Because if by chance the player fails, then since his wages are reasonable, they can offload him and cut their losses. Arsenal are famous for overpaying some of their average players (even though some of them are young and talented), which is precisely why they have great difficulties in finding buyers for them when they are not wanted by Arsenal. The result is they are loaned out year after year until their contract runs out, or some arrangement is made. Examples include, Denilson (The former Arsenal one), Bendtner, Djorou, etc. So, United know the dangers of giving potential stars very high wages that they haven’t earned yet, and will never have matched the wages that a very talented young player demands, if its above a fair and reasonable sum. Why? Because the financial repercussions, should the player fail, is just too great. We don’t have a sugardaddy owner, so there is no safety net that we can rely on to pay the crazy wages should the young player fail, unlike City, Chelsea, PSG, etc. 

iv.) Hazard only wanting to join Champions League winners

If thats the main reason, or one of the reasons he wanted to join them, then its just bad luck for us, and there is nothing we could have done about it. Chelsea happened to win the tournament that year. Bad timing for us, i guess.

Note: Wage structure

Sir Alex would never give Hazard 150,000-180,000 pounds per week, in his first season. As i mentioned earlier, the risks are just too great. Paying a high transfer fee for such players is risky enough (and we were ready to take on that risk), but if the player asks for unreasonable wages, then that is the straw that breaks the camel’s back, and we pull out or offer no more. That is the sensible way of running a sustainable club, and i completely support that. Also, do people seriously think that Sir Alex would have given him wages as big as that he is being paid by Chelsea? He would never do that, never, because it makes a mockery of our wage structure. Sure, we do make mistakes sometimes (such as Young being paid around 110,000 to 130,000 pounds per week), but they are accidents, and there was good logic used when the player was bought (Young was a proven EPL player, did well for Villa, and he is English and helps us in the Home Grown Quota) . A talented kid, like Hazard, would have never gotten more than what Valencia, Vidic, Ferdinand, etc are earning, because they are proven first team players, whereas Hazard wasn’t proven (at least not in the EPL). 

Had we paid wages that Chelsea were offering, and if we got him, what happens if he flopped? We would be stuck with him for a few years, trying to develop him without succeeding at it? Why? Because we won’t be able to offload him, since his wages would be too high, and no one could touch him with a 10 feet long barge pole, since they won’t be able to pay the wages that he would have been on at United. For every young talent that succeeds, there are dozens that fail. Think back to the names that were tipped for the top, for greatness, but failed. Some quick examples are Freddy Adu, Quaresma, Denilson (the winger), Bostock, Keirrison, Francis Jeffers, Routledge, D’Alessandro, Bojan, Shaun Wright-Phillips etc. All the names mentioned were destined for greatness when they were in their late teens, and were very talented players. Some live up to it, most fail. That is why Manchester United don’t pay big wages to young , talented, but unproven, and not fully developed players. Paying a big transfer fee is risky enough. But paying big wages to them is even more risky, because if they flop (statistics say most will flop, no matter which top club gets them), then they have a player on big wages, that no one else will buy off you since no one will pay him those big wages, and that player will take up a place in your squad for quite a few years. Sure, we would have given Hazard a pretty big contract, but it would be much less that what Chelsea would offer him, and i feel we are right, taking into account the fact that most young talents fail to reach their potential, and because the financial risks for a self-sustainable club like United is too great. 

3.) Zaha

Now, compare the money Hazard is making to Zaha, who is said to be making 30,000 pounds per week at United. He is arguably worth more than that, but what if he flops? Same reason Zaha is on smaller wages, but if he develops well and becomes a big player for us, then he will certainly get a wage rise, which is the club policy. Our goal is to get young, talented, hungry players. The transfer fee could be high, but the wages must be reasonable. This means we can offload them if they flop, and means the player will be hungry to improve and succeed so that he can earn a much higher salary. As Sir Matt Busby said, “You don’t need to chase money at a club like Manchester United, if you’re good enough, it will find you”. 

Conclusion

If you prefer we pay sky high wages for top young, talented, but unproven players, then you might as well stop supporting United, because that is something we have never done, and will never do (for the foreseeable future at least). We have our own way of getting young players and developing them, and we have our own philosophy on what they should be earning while they haven’t proven themselves yet, and we have our own wage structure while we must abide by and respect. Sir Alex Ferguson had that approach, Manchester United has always had that approach, and David Moyes will have the exact same approach. There isn’t much point in saying a young, talented, unproven player deserves to be paid 150,000 pounds per week, because it is incredibly risky, and so was the Hazard signing at the time. If by looking at Hazard now, you see that we clearly should have signed him, then hindsight is a great thing. But that wasn’t available to Sir Alex Ferguson and United when they had to decide how much wages Hazard was worth a year ago when he just another very talented, young, unproven player, like so many dozens that appear every single year, of which most do fail. But, we shouldn’t be disheartened by that, because for every Shearer, there is a Solskjaer, for every Ronaldinho, a Cristiano Ronaldo, for every Hazard/Moura, a Zaha. 

Fickle United fans blame Moyes for transfer chaos? Are they right? Is it chaos?

Over the past few days, many United fans have been discussing our transfer strategy and Moyes has received a lot of criticism. He has been criticised for going after targets that are difficult, and unlikely to land. But is his approach wrong?

United tend to go for 3 types of players:

  1. World class-such a player can immediately get into the starting 11, let alone the first team squad. Recent example, RVP (arguably upgrade over Rooney, Welbeck and Chicharito)
  2. Good player-Players that may not be world class, yet, but are good players and around the same level as those currently in the squad which play in the same position. Recent example, Kagawa (we did have Rooney)
  3. Talented Youngsters-Quality young players, that are nowhere near the end of their development curve. They are talented, but expected to be backup players for the next few years while they mature and develop further. Recent example, Zaha.

For the sake of this article, I am going to call World Class players as Class A, Good Players as Class B, Talented Youngsters as Class C, and Rubbish players as Class D. We don’t buy Class D players of purpose. These players tend to be in one of the 3 higher classes, but they become Class D because they flopped, such as Bebe, and arguably Young.

For a club like United, the priority in the transfer market is always to go after world class players. But that depends based on fiscal limits, target’s choice of club, etc. in the past, Sir Alex would plan out what players we needed to compete/win the league, and do well in the Champions League. But this summer, he retired and Moyes took over the reigns.

New era, fresh circumstances

Fans blame Moyes for not buying world class players early. But this is a stupid argument for them to make. United would have never bought a player until Moyes was officially introduced to the media, which was on the 5th of July 2013. Nor would Moyes have signed a player without first assessing his squad. Did fans really expect Moyes to sign players without first looking at the players he currently has at his disposal? If he did, then he would be acting recklessly and irresponsibly. Why? Because we have a good squad, that won the league last year. Whether it was with Sir Alex or not, is irrelevant. The players did the business on the pitch. Of course, Sir Alex was instrumental, and we wouldn’t have won it without his input, but the players Moyes inherits are still the same. On top of that, will Moyes sign new players without first looking at what the academy and reserves have on offer? Wouldn’t those players like to show Moyes what they have to offer before he buys a player(s) in their position and potentially block the route to the first team squad? All these questions and more were on his plate before he even took the job.

When his last match for Everton was over, he didn’t have the time to assess the United first team squad, reserve team squad and academy youngsters. Especially the first team squad, because some went on holiday at the end of the season and others went to international duty. Moyes didn’t have the time to analyse his squad and see where its strengths and weaknesses were. During the holiday, he arranged who was to be part of his backroom staff at United, and seemed to speak to Rooney (by phone, or whatever) and try to solve that problem. Then he himself went on holiday. What else was he supposed to do? Buy players? How was he going to do that without first assessing his first team squad and reserve team players? Would it not be irresponsible and rash for him to buy players without first looking at what he already has?

Those that think he should have bought players immediately, are either idiots or seem to think that Football Manager is real life. In Football Manager, when one becomes the new manager of a club, its easy to assess the strengths and weaknesses of the squad and determine which position(s) needs players and what types of players. In the game, this can be done within seconds. Click on personal profiles on all players in the club, and you will know what players you need, if any. But do people really think this is how it works in real life? If they think so, then the dream world has become their reality. If they don’t think so, then what the hell are they complaining about?

Moyes going on holiday had no bearing on transfer business, since he couldn’t asses the United first team squad and reserve squads since they too had gone on holiday, or international duty. He returned a few days before the squad, and started work officially on the 1st of July. The players, most of them, came back on the 3rd or 4th of July. Then the club went on the Far East tour, and left Manchester on the 10th of July, with some some first team players missing, and quite a few reserve team players (Januzaj, Lingard, etc), as well as our main only summer signing, Zaha (excluding Varela, since it seems he is going on loan to Boca Juniors or elsewhere). So, Moyes had a week to look at the players, and could barely judge them considering all of them are unfit after their summer break, and most were probably playing like crap.

Off to Bangkok, and barely a couple of days after arrival, they played their first preseason match vs Thailand All Stars, on 13th of July. Off to Australia now, and while they were there, Moyes seems to have had enough time to assess the players at his disposal in his new club, and can now decide which areas need strengthening, as well as the type and quality of player(s) he needs in those areas. Rumours of United making a bid for Fabregas surfaced around 16th of July, which means he took just less than 2 weeks (reasonable amount of time) to assess his players and options in training, and decide on what players he wanted to buy. Then on the 20th we played vs the A-League AllStars.

It took Moyes 2 weeks to look at the squad, assess them, and make a list of areas he needed players in, and the players he needed to fix it. Is 2 weeks really a lot of time? Is it really an unreasonable amount of time for Moyes to take to figure out what players we need, the type of player, and in the areas we need reinforcement? Was it sufficient enough to justify some United fans throwing their toys out of the pram? I feel Moyes took a reasonable amount of time, and the fans that are blaming him for not moving quicker into the transfer market are being very unreasonable and not considering the practical challenges that Moyes was facing when he started the job.

The Fabregas bid, on the 16th of July, signalled the start of our transfer business. Moyes then confirmed we were after a midfielder on the 20th of July, the day we faced the A League All Stars, by saying, “Signing a midfield player was one area where we thought we could possibly add to the squad”.

Challenges of buying world class players

Moyes said that we are after top quality players, which we should be targeting for a club with the stature and expectations of United. But there are a few problems with targeting top quality players this transfer window. They are:

  1. Moyes- he doesn’t have the reputation required to attract top quality players (or Class A players). It will be difficult for him to do that, not just this summer, but for the next few years while he builds his reputation at United as one that is capable of delivering trophies and developing players talents to closer to their potential.
  2. Time lost- managers tend to start working and planning their summer transfer window plans and strategy sometime in the 2nd half of the previous season. Not only was he the manager of Everton at that time, but he also didn’t know that he was going to the United manager come the summer. So, he didn’t have any transfer plans prepared for this summer when he took the job. On top of that, no planning can be done, until he had a chance to assess the players himself.
  3. United and Moyes know that this summer is the most crucial transfer window for him. He seems to have prioritised trying to get in top quality players, that have experience at the highest level. Attracting such players to United is difficult, due to us being ranked 7th or 8th in the transfer market food chain, because i feel Real Madrid, Barcelona, Manchester City, Chelsea, PSG, Monaco and possibly Bayern Munich, are currently bigger fish than we are in the market, due to a loose combination of them either having more money, or bigger reputation managers, or better squads, or bigger global stature, etc. If by chance we are the club that the targeted player wants to come to, then we still have to negotiate a price at which his current club would sell the player to us. If that club is lower than us in the food chain, then this is much easier to do. But if the club is higher than we are in the food chain, then its difficult to prise the player from that club by just showing them the cash because rarely do clubs want to sell top quality players, let alone to major rivals. This is why the Fabregas chase is very complicated, because its possible that he wants to join us, but he has 3 years left on his contract and is wanted by Barcelona.

These are some of the problems that United currently face in this summers transfer window. Some United fans blame Moyes for not getting involved in the transfer market sooner, but I hope I have shown their opinion to be unreasonable. Another very popular opinion, is that Moyes is an idiot for trying to buy top quality players, for some of the reasons that I have just listed above. They feel that he should instead be going for Class B players instead of even trying to go for Class A players. I am going to try and present my viewpoint, which is that this other fan-popular opinion is very immature.

Is Moyes stupid for going after world class players?

Moyes decided to jump into the transfer market on the 16th of July, after he has time to assess his squad and appoint his backroom staff. Between then and the last day of the transfer window, there are 49 days. Note: The last day of the transfer window is on Monday, 2nd of September, not Saturday, the 31st of August, because rules say the transfer window can’t close on a weekend.

So, around 11 days have passed since Moyes plunged into the transfer market, initiated by the Fabregas bid. Which means there are 38 days left for Moyes to strengthen his squad.

Naturally, Moyes is after targets that he feels are Class A players, and Fabregas is certainly one of them. His other targets are said to be Bale, Cristiano Ronaldo, etc. Such targets are hard to get, and some United fans feel that Moyes is wasting his time, which is arguably a fair opinion. But they aren’t right when they say we shouldn’t even be bidding for them just because its difficult to get them. Why? Because:

  1. That is a defeatist mentality. Had United adopted that, we won’t have RVP, because at the time we were bidding for him, those very same fans felt he was hard to get, due to City also being interested in him, Arsenal unwilling to sell him to an EPL rival, let alone to us (who Arsenal see as bigger rivals than City, considering the fact they have already sold some players to them in the past, such as Nasri, Adebayor, Kolo Toure, Clichy, etc). But, just because a target is hard to get, doesn’t mean we have no chance in getting him. Had we adopted those fans defeatist and pathetic approach, we wont have RVP, leading EPL goal scorer, sitting in our squad right now, who played a big part in firing us to league title number 20.
  2. A wise manager makes intelligent use of the transfer period. Moyes has 49 days (from 16th July to 2nd September) to bring in Class A, B or C players. He wants proven Class A players, so he probably decided to spend the first few weeks of the time available to him to get his first choice targets (Class A players). He is currently in that period and after players that would get into the starting 11, such as Fabregas, CR7, Bale, etc. So, its natural he will dedicate the first few weeks to seeing whether he can get them or not. If he can get them, brilliant, we probably won’t need to sign anymore players. If we can’t get them, then move down the transfer target list, and on to Class B and C players. So, if we fail we fail to get our Class A targets, by say the end of the 1st week of August, then i am sure Moyes will move on to easier targets (Class B and C players). Moyes is taking the smart approach, therefore i don’t understand why the fans are angry at Moyes. Do those fans want Moyes to sign Class B and C players without even trying to get Class A players? Do those fans want us to get Class A players in the first place? Those fans want United to go for Class B and C targets (such as Fellaini, Strootman, Thiago, etc) without even bidding for Class A targets. Does that approach make any sense at all? I don’t think so. Lets just take the following scenario, we buy Strootman and Thiago, then bid for Fabregas and realise Barca may be open to selling Fabregas for the right price, but we look like fools because we can’t buy him due to insufficient funds due to earlier purchases and/or no space in the squad to accommodate Class A players. I feel the fans criticising Moyes aren’t think logically, nor practically.

Fans are angry that we supposedly didn’t even bid for Thiago, according to Barcelona, Thiago and his father (Mazinho). It seems we did talk to Thiago, but we couldn’t agree terms, and so didn’t present Barcelona with a bid. Losing out on Thiago is not a problem. He is a quality player, and I wanted us to get him as badly as I wanted us to go for Strootman. But, Moyes seems to prefer going for Class A players first, whereas Thiago and Strootman can be termed as Class B or C player. They aren’t world class, because if they were, then what would that make the likes of Xavi, Pirlo, Schweinsteiger, etc? Super duper-world class? Therefore, Thiago and Strootman are quality players, but still Class B or C players (depends on everyones individual opinion). Also, lets face it, this transfer window, Thiago and Strootman are the flavours of the month. That doesn’t mean they aren’t good players, but losing out on them also doesn’t mean that there aren’t other quality, young, Class B and C players available out there. A few names spring to mind, such as, Veratti, Eriksen, etc. I actually know a “United fan” that is bashing United for losing out on Strootman, even though few weeks ago he said he was nothing but an average player after judging him solely on his performances in the U21 tournament in Israel and at that time was also bashing us for only targeting “average” players like Strootman. This is how fickle, immature and spoiled some members in the United fanbase are.

This very same “United fan” also seems like he is so sure that the Fabregas bid will fail, its as if he would jump all over my offer of a bet had I offered it to him. I know its highly unlikely we will get Fabregas. Same was said about our chances of getting RVP last summer. But Fabregas is a Class A player, and even if we have a 10% chance of getting him, we should go for it and try to sign him. Why? Because we have nothing to lose. Some say we will lose time. But are we?

Are we losing time by going after world class players?

How are we losing time? By dedicating lets says the first half of our transfer activity period (from 16th July to end of first week of August) on getting Class A players, we will still have 3 weeks to land Class B and C targets if we fail to land our primary targets. Some say we will be losing out if we dont move on to Class B and C targets already, but how so? These Class B and C targets are as good as what we already have. Those targets won’t be guaranteed starters in our starting 11. Lets say we landed Strootman. Is he guaranteed to start in our 2 man central midfield? Over who? Carrick? No chance. Anderson or Cleverley? Possibly, depending on each individuals opinion on Anderson, Cleverley and Strootman as players. Since a Strootman won’t be an undisputed starter had he been signed how are we losing out on him (or any other Class B and C player) if he is not in the squad for the competitive matches in August, which are Wigan (in Charity Shield), Swansea and Chelsea (in the league)? Class B and C players would improve the quality and depth of the squad, but they would be fighting for their place in the first team, and not guaranteed starters like Fabregas, or Bale, or CR7, etc. So, isn’t it wise to dedicate the first half of our transfer activity period getting Class A players that would walk into the first team? I think so. Wouldn’t such a player(s) be much more likely to make a difference vs the opposition we are facing in the opening round of fixtures, than a Class B or C player? I think so. Therefore, I totally reject some “United fans” opinion that we are fools for even trying to go after Class A players even though we have a small chance of getting him, because their mentality is not only a defeatist one, but also completely impractical. Thank goodness Moyes doesn’t share their mentality. Had Sir Alex had their mentality, we wouldn’t have gotten RVP, and maybe not even the 20th league title last season.

There is plenty of time left in the transfer window to land secondary targets (like Fellani, Veratti, etc), if we fail to land our top targets. Moyes needed time to assess the squad, which we took, and was right to do so. He was also right to prioritise trying to get world class players first and foremost. Should he fail at getting those players, which is likely, then there is plenty of time to get the secondary targets. Moyes is no idiot, nor is his adviser, a certain Sir Alex Ferguson, and both have gone about the planning of this transfer window in a mature, calm manner. Thank goodness the fickle, idiotic fans in our fanbase don’t run Manchester United.

Fickle fans=Football Manager syndrome

These fickle fans, whose opinions I have been trying to counter in this article, seem to have the Football Manager syndrome. Common symptoms of this illness are:

  1. Belief that a new manager can assess his squad within a couple of hours, let alone a day or two. As if he could just click on their personal player profiles, look up their stats, and decide which area of the squad needs strengthening, with how many players and of what quality.
  2. Belief that a new manager can just come in, transfer list, and somehow sell a bunch of players that he doesn’t feel are up the high standards he expects within a single transfer window
  3. Belief that all transfer business can be done within a couple of weeks. As if we can go through the whole bidding process on his primary transfer target list within a week, by going to the “search player menu”, write down what stats he wants in those players, then press “enter”, and then a list of players just comes comes up on a screen. Then bidding X amount on his chosen primary target list, and getting a final response within a day or two. If bid accepted, and players personal terms agreed, then hallelujah. If bids rejected, then bid on secondary targets list, get them accepted, and then finish of the whole transfer business witin two weeks. Then sit tight for preseason, play some friendlies, then try to hit the season guns blazing.
  4. Also, if you think getting primary targets are hard, no problem. Just buy the secondary target, and if after a week you realise there is a chance to get the primary target (the much better player), then just reload the game, not buy the secondary player and instead wait and get the primary player.

Silly season is more that just having to bear bullshit from the media and their stories, of which 80% are the products of daydreaming, lazy journalism, or abuse of some substance or the other. This time of the year, especially for us United fans, is also the time to bear the bullshit from the idiots in our fanbase. There is no escape from it, unless you cut yourself off from the mediums that these fans use to voice their opinions, which includes newspapers, internet forums, social media, radio shows, TV news channels, etc.

Theory on sale of players

This is just my personal theory on two players that have been heavily linked to transfers out of the club.

  1. Rooney. I feel he wants to go, but we are under no real pressure to sell him. I think we will be happy to let his contract run down another year. If we don’t get sufficient quality players in to satisfy Moyes, then I think he will stay this summer. If we were to sell him to Chelsea this summer, then I think it would be because we were sure we could use his money to buy another quality player to replace him and/or Chelsea bid crazy money for him which we just couldn’t say no to (such as a 50 million pounds bid).
  2. Nani. I feel he is part of a transfer game of chess. He is dispensable since he has one year left of his contract, and we seem to only want 8.5 million pounds for him (according to Galatasaray chairman, Unal Aysal) which is cheap for a player of his quality. I am sure he has a long line of suitors, especially for such a cheap price. But why hasn’t he transferred yet? I feel its because we want to sell him this summer, only if we get a top class winger (such as CR7, Bale, etc). That way by selling Nani, we get an unreasonably small fee, get his wages off the books, but more importantly make space in our squad for the world class winger we get. But if we don’t get this world class winger, then I think Nani will be kept this year, and he will be given a new contract so that he doesn’t go for free next summer. Also, I don’t think we will sell Nani this summer if we fail to get a top quality winger, because if we sell him, then we will probably need to replace him (assuming Moyes doesn’t trust Lingard enough to give him Nani’s games). The replacement could be a Class B or C winger. I don’t think we will go for a Class C winger (talented kid) because we already have Zaha and Lingard who fit that description, and I don’t think Moyes will be satisfied with just 2 senior wingers (Valencia and Young). Also, if we sell Nani, without buying CR7/Bale, then he would be replaced by a Class B winger, which Nani already is, and he is among the best in that category. Why would we sell Nani, for cheap, just to replace him with another as good as him for more money? I just don’t think its going to happen, unless the Class B winger was available for cheap as well, but there are other factors to consider such as settling-in time for the new Class B winger whereas Nani is already settled in the squad, etc. So, if Nani stays, we won’t get CR7/Bale. If CR7/Bale do arrive this summer, then Nani is gone. If Nani stays, he will most likely get a new contract, but its not necessary that he will be sold next summer, but this is connected to Young and I will explain that below. Note: I feel Nani is an excellent Class B player. He has all the talent in the world to become Class A, but he is inconsistent, which makes him Class B. If we were to call him Class A, then what does that make the likes of CR7?
  3. Young. No way will he be sold this summer in my opinion, and he has 3 years left on his contract. Not with Nani in such a vulnerable position this summer. But, if Nani was to stay and get a new contract, then Young will probably be sold next summer. This is because i think he will be the most expendable next summer, because i feel Valencia, Nani and Zaha will have better seasons that Young, mainly because i think they are better players than him, and it would end up making him 4th choice winger. I think Moyes would then sell him to make room for another winger (either someone world class, or one with the potential to become world class). So, this transfer game of chess with Nani this summer could well lead to Youngs sale next summer, if the pieces fall in Nani’s favour. 

Transfer Budget of 2013/14 and 2012/13 seasons

Lastly, I wanted to point out something, which is that we have quite a lot of money to spend this transfer window. Ignore the quotes from Moyes where he said he has an unlimited amount of money to spend, because the Glazers aren’t Sheikhs, nor have they suddenly become kind. We do have a budget and it has a limit. But what is the limit?

Last year we had around 70 million pounds net transfer budget. I can’t get the figures to back it up for sure, until the annual financial report comes out, which isn’t out yet. But, based on our transfer activity, it is possible to estimate our transfer budget. Last summer our net transfer expenditure was 39 million pounds. The Zaha transfer doesn’t count since it happened in January, but was worth 10 million pounds, plus 5 million addons, so 15 million pounds total. But in the summer, we were in search of a winger (either Hazard or Moura), and the two wingers that we had targeted were worth over 30 million pounds, each, and we were prepared to pay it. That money was going to come out of our pockets. Had we got either of them, its unlikely we would have signed Zaha (at least not last season), since he is too is a winger. But what is sure is that, had we got either Hazard or Moura, our net transfer expenditure would have gone over 70 million pounds. But since since moves for both of them failed, it is out of that allocated money for a winger that we got the funds to buy Zaha in January.

Our transfer budget may have been even more than 70 million pounds net, but its unlikely. We can reasonably assume this based on the trends of last summer, but we will proof get proof of that in a few weeks when the annual financial report comes out.

But I do feel our transfer budget should be even bigger this year. Somewhere around net 80-100 million pounds, depends on how much of added revenue is added to transfer budget, wage budget, and how much retained for other purposes. Our wage bill rose last year, and I am sure it will increase this year too. But the revenue that we can count on will be higher for this year and future years, is also going to be higher, which will probably increase our transfer budget to the mark I predicted. Certain factors we have to thank for that, some of which are:

  1. Increase in broadcasting revenue, thanks to the new EPL TV deal, out of which we should be getting around 25 million pounds+ extra from this year onwards.
  2. Increase in commercial revenue, such as the new AON deal (training kit and Carrington naming rights) contributing more financially than the DHL deal which was replaced. There are also increases in commercial revenue from other sponsors, such as the new Aeroflot deal which is estimated to be worth 8 million pounds per season, which was a lot more than what I had estimated a few months ago when rumours of this new sponsorship was in the media.
  3. Our Nike deal is also going to be renewed this summer, most likely. Currently we make roughly 35 million pounds from this deal, but experts argue that the new Nike deal will see us get around 60-75 million. There is no guarantee that Nike will extend our partnership with them, but it is likely we will because I don’t think they will want to lose ground in the turf war vs Adidas. Currently, out of the top 4 most supported clubs, Adidas sponsors Real Madrid and Chelsea, whereas Nike have us and Barcelona. I think its unlikely that Nike would want to lose out on an extended partnership with us, because not only would Nike arguably lose out on a valuable client, but they would also be handing us on a silver platter to Adidas or a host of new competitors that have just got into this market (Under Armour, Warrior, etc). Should the Nike deal be renewed this summer, then that extra revenue will also be added to our transfer budget, wage budget, etc.
  4. Interest payments have been reduced by around 10 million pounds per year, after the Glazer debt was refinanced.

All of this, and more, combined will see the transfer budget rise to the 80-100 million pounds net mark, and the wage budget will rise to, but I am not going to try and predict that because it depends a lot on sales, or which players, purchases, and of which players.

Conclusion

So, that concludes my view of the opinions of the idiots in our fanbase, along with my facts showing why our transfer budget is going to be a lot higher this year, than last year, although last years transfer budget was nothing to be scoffed at. 

Also, I don’t think we will be leaving transfer business this late next summer, because by next summer he will know the squad very well, and can make transfer plans throughtout the season. Identifying areas to improve, players to target, and bidding, would start once the season ends, and we would probably get players in before the preseason tour. So, this seasons transfer business being done late should be seen as a blip, due to the unique circumstances that United has had to face, which hasn’t been faced in 26 years.

Thoughts on the United academy, and why we haven’t produced another class of 1992

We have a lot of good young players current in our reserves and academy. A lot of credit for that should go to those in charge, such as Brian McClair, Warren Joyce, Paul McGuinness, etc. A lot of credit should also go to Sir Alex Ferguson, of course.

These players have a lot of talent, but obviously, not all of them will make it into the first team. The cream of the crop will make it, while the rest will be sold to clubs where they can continue their development and further their careers. I haven’t been watching our reserve team and youth team consistently for many years, but those that have say the same thing i do, which is we haven’t had such a good group of young talented players for many years now. But this doesn’t surprises me.

The reason it doesn’t surprise me is because of the rules and regulations that United have had to overcome to produce such a group. Class of 1992 is a world famous class, and we all know the names of those that graduated from that class, into our first team, and became top players for many years since then. Clearly we haven’t had a batch as good as that since then, and this issue has been used like a rock, which some supporters throw at United. I can understand why they do that, but i don’t think they are aware of all the facts.

90 minute rule (introduced in 1998, by FA)

In 1998, a new rule was introduced by the FA, which was known as the “90 minutes rule”. One of the key features in those rules was that United (and all other clubs) couldn’t sign under-16s who lived more than 90 minutes driving distance away from the club and couldn’t sign under-12s who lived more than 60 minutes driving distance away from the club, unless the young player’s family moves into the 90 (or 60) minutes radius of the club interested in signing the player for their academy. Along with that came tribunals which decided the cost of a young player that the buying club had to pay to the selling club (in most case, against their will). Each player’s case was judged individually, and often the cost of buying the player was quite high.

To put things in perspective, what would have happened had the “90 minute rule” been applied before 1992. The famous class of 1992 consisted of 6 players:

Scholes, Giggs, Beckham, Gary Neville, Phil Neville and Nicky Butt. (i excluded Terry Cooke because he didn’t exactly become a key member of the first team squad)

Under the “90 minute rule”, Giggs would not have been signed from City, because the tribunal would have put a huge fee on his head when he transferred from City, which United would arguably not have paid. Scholes would have to sign for Oldham, Beckham would have not been allowed to sign for United since we was from London and based there. The Neville brothers would have probably signed for Bury, and the only one that we would have been likely to sign, is Nicky Butt, but even that is debatable considering the number of clubs based in the same “youth catchment area” as us (due to the 90 minutes rule).

You can imagine how much our history would have changed had the “90 minute rule” been applied earlier, especially before 1992. But now imagine what our history, quality of batch of academy products, etc could have been post-1998 had this rule not been applied.

What notable football figures have said about the 90 minute rule

This rule was detested by Sir Alex Ferguson, since it deprived United from being able to scout all over the UK for the best young talent and then bring them to our academy. He said the following,

“Manchester United are being unfairly restricted by the FA regulations. The 90 minute rule is one of the most ridiculous rules i have ever known. The academy rule is a real handicap to us, you would have thought it illegal to deny a young boy the chance to come to a club like Manchester United.”

I am going to quote Brian McClair (United Academy Director), and his thoughts on the “90 minutes rule” and the impact it has had on United’s academy, and the quality of its conveyor belt of talent to the first team.

“We hosted an under-16 tournament with Barcelona here two years ago, and we put out a local team. All our players are from Greater Manchester, less than an hour’s drive. We played well, but they won the tournament. They had a team with six players from all over Spain, three from Africa and one from Argentina. You are going to struggle against that. We work a local system here, all the kids live within an hour and we think we have done OK. But we think that kids from all over the country should have that opportunity to come. We are envious of the structure that other countries have. As it is, the Academy system (due to 90 minute rule, introduced in 1998) is not perfect for us. But it is not hurting us more than anybody else. It’s not perfect for anyone.It used to be an open competition (pre-1998) where you could scout anyone all over the country. What it (90 minute rule) means is that a player like David Beckham, who lived in London, wouldn’t be able to come to United now under these rules. That’s not fair on the boy if he wants to come here. It can also mean that some of the best boys won’t always be able to train and progress with boys of their standard. That can affect their progress. The Class of `92 wouldn’t have happened if the rules now had operated then. You can’t scout anybody these days. I can’t go and watch a Manchester City against Bolton game for instance and scout a player. You have to work with what you have got. But the Academy system starts so young these days that you are having to make a judgment on a player aged just eight! Because of the rules what it can mean is that if you don’t find a decent group at eight years of age then you won’t have a decent group going right through (the youth system, at every age group). The whole concern is about the development of footballers.”

McClair mentioned that not surrounding a good young player with many others of his age group, has a negative impact on that player’s development and potential. Alan Irvine (Everton Academy Director), said the following. “I found that by putting good players together they all improved. The individuals develop the group and the group develops the individuals, and quality goes through the roof.”

McClair and Irvine are both on the same page, and have similar thoughts on the negative impact that the 90 minute rule had on the academies of United and Everton, along with others from all around the country.

Due to the limits and restrictions placed on United, the Academy could only scout and recruit from a limited number of players from the overall UK market. This coupled with sky high fees that buying clubs had to pay, due to tribunals set up, resulted in United and many other clubs with ambitious academies having to look abroad and recruiting talented youngsters for cheaper and with less regulations to put up with.

As McClair said: “You have to abide by the rules, but we have to do what is best for United. If it is appropriate for us to scout more abroad, then that is the line we will go down. We all want home-based players (lads from Greater Manchester) to do well, but if we find a couple of kids in France who are better, we will definitely endeavour to try and get them”.

I agree with what he says. If Manchester is not producing sufficient talent to satisfy our Academy goals, then we are well within our rights to look abroad and find the best young talents and bring them over to our academy. This is a by-product of the 90 minute rule and the tribunals, and UK academies (including United’s) would not be looking for talent from abroad to shore up the academy, if we were given the freedom to scout for young talent from all over the UK, just like it was pre-1998 going back many, many decades. Had it not been for such backwards rules imposed in 1998, it is likely that we would have managed to produce another batch as talented as 1992, and there would be less foreign players in our academy (except for those that are simply outstanding and among the best in their age group worldwide).

These are some of the difficulties that the United academy has had to go through for the past 15 years, and that is why i think its unfair when many United fans criticise the academy, because they aren’t willing to look at the problems facing the academy, let alone acknowledge them.

United academy vs La Masia

People keep saying our academy should be producing talents like the Barcelona academy is doing. But do those people know whether or not the conditions and regulations governing the Barcelona academy is the same as those facing United’s academy? No. Majority of them don’t know that Barcelona have much less restrictions and regulations to deal with than United.

Barcelona can bring a 14 year boy, from any corner of Spain, and have him live in La Masia and boarding houses. United can’t do that, since we would need the player’s entire family to come over to Manchester (within 60 or 90 minutes radius of the club, depending on the player’s age). Therefore, Barcelona not only have permission to scout and recruit from all of Spain, but they can also bring the boy to their academy without needing his whole family to move with him. Not only that, since the boy can live in their boarding school with other young talented boys, they also have more access to him and can train him even more. United on the other hand have to deal with geographical scouting/recruitment restrictions, no permission to put the boy in a boarding school run by them, and so have less time to train the player. So, a Barca player from any certain youth team age group, tends to be more talented/developed than a United player from the same youth team age group. Not only that, but when United want to sign a young player from another English club’s academy, it is usually a very expensive transfer due to the tribunal system. But Barcelona can sign any young player they want from another Spanish clubs academy for peanuts.

These are some of the main reasons why i think it’s ridiculous to compare the academy of United, to that of Barcelona. Also, its no surprise that the United academy hasn’t produced young talent like they used to for around two decades, no surprise it hasn’t produced a class like the 92 batch, no surprise we struggle to produce top quality youngsters for the first team, and no surprise why our academy is packed with foreign youngsters.

New rule introduced (EPPP, introduced in 2012/13 season)

But, i think our academy can once again reach old heights that were achieved two decades ago, and the many more decades before that. This is mainly due to the EPPP (Elite Player Performance Plan).

It will take a long time to explain the EPPP, and i will instead leave some links for you to read on this topic in detail. I am just going to explain the impact it will have on our academy in the near future and onwards.

The EPPP (introduced in 2012/13 season) will essentially grade all academies in the country, with the best academies given Tier 1 status, and the worst given Tier 4 status, and there are two Tiers in between, Tier 2 and Tier 3. It is likely that we will be given Tier 1 status (grading not yet complete), and this new system will have huge advantages for us, which i will list below.

1.) The 90 minute rule will be completely nullified. This means that we can scout and sign young players from all over the country. We will be able to bring some of the finest young talents to our academy and train them, like we used to do pre-1998.

2.) Instead of tribunals, we now have fixed compensation scheme if we want to sign a young player from another club’s academy. These tariffs are much cheaper and very affordable compared to the prices the tribunals used to set when the 90 minute rule was imposed in 1998.

3.) It will increase the amount of time we can spend developing a young player, due to our academy having/getting Tier 1 status

I can’t find anything negative these new rules will have for us really. As long we scout well, recruit effectively, develop the players properly and give them no reason to leave our academy for another clubs academy, then this system will see our academy return to the good old days, and then we can finally produce a conveyor belt of young talent ready for the first team, like all United fans want.

Also, the Premier League has been planning on starting boarding schools where schoolboys, with natural football talent, can be housed. They will do their normal schooling there, along with training with their club, and all this will increase the amount of time the club and their coaches have to develop the young players. One such boarding school is supposed to be built in Manchester, and this idea was planned before the EPPP rules were introduced. The plan of the boarding schools was to bypass the 90 minute rule that the FA had imposed, but despite the EPPP now nullifying the older rule, the boarding school idea still seems to be underway. There was speculation that in the next few years, Manchester United will have their own boarding school and accommodation for the students/players, similar to what Barcelona have in La Masia.

Conclusion

Our academy has suffered for the past 15 years due to the brainless FA coming up with and implementing the 90 minute rule. Our academy standards certainly dropped due to it, but due to EPPP and other measures, it is likely that the Academy standards will rise to its previous heights again.

One of the worst things about the 90 minute rule was that Sir Alex’s contacts and scouts in the UK had much less significance and weight due to the stupid rule. The EPPP, and the appointment of Moyes will give United a solid reason to build contacts and scouts in the UK again, so that we can scout and recruit the best young talent in the country for our academy. Moyes has stressed how important the academy is to United’s history, traditions and future plans. This is another reason why Moyes was the right choice. He is a British manager, who has been in the Premier League for a long time. He certainly has contacts and scouts in the country as well, and due to him being young, he can build more contacts, scouts and agents, which he can use to make the Manchester United academy as great as it used to be. Had a non-British manager been appointed as United manager, then its unlikely we would have been able to take full advantage of the EPPP, since they don’t have a large network of contacts in the local game. If not for anything else, then Moyes was at least the right choice for the academy to succeed. I feel the academy has done the best it could under the rubbish 90 minute rule, but i am confident the academy will see its standards increase now that the EPPP and Moyes have arrived.

Useful links

http://www.footballacademytalk.com/football-academy-revolution-or-disaster-the-new-fa-elite-player-performance-plan-eppp/

http://www.premierleague.com/content/premierleague/en-gb/youth/elite-player-performance-plan.html

http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/football/22293207

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/football/competitions/premier-league/8324495/Henry-Winter-Premier-Leagues-elite-plan-radical-overhaul-of-academy-system-to-help-top-schoolboy-talent.html

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/football/competitions/premier-league/8956990/Elite-Player-Performance-Plan-will-put-youngsters-on-a-par-with-continental-contemporaries-says-Ged-Roddy-Premier-League-Youth-Director.html

http://pitchsidetalk.wordpress.com/2012/06/06/elite-player-performance-plan-an-insight/

http://www.thefootballschool.co.uk/2012/07/02/why-the-elite-player-performance-plan-eppp-will-not-work/

Why it is folly to give Rooney a contract at all costs this summer

We all know what happened last season. Sir Alex said Rooney asked to leave the club, but we don’t know if it was a formal transfer request or informal one. We don’t know what Rooney’s side of the story is because he hasn’t said a word on it so far. Moyes in his first press conference as United manager didnt directly answer the question on whether or not Rooney wanted to leave United.

Point is, Rooney on his day is a world class player. He has two years left on his contract, and his value based on transfermarkt.co.uk is £ 44 million. We don’t prefer selling him. But there is an issue. For star players, younger than 30 years of age, we tend to start negotiations before he enters his 2nd last contract year. Rooney is said to be earning around 250k a week, and so he is the highest earner at United and one of the highest in the Premier League. He is supposedly upset, but whether he is or not, he would have wanted a wage rise in his new contract, since he and/or his agent are money hungry whores, and/or because its Rooney’s last major contract (arguably) and he wants to make as much money as he can from it. This is all understandable to an extent.

But the problem is, is he really worth a wage rise? Is he even worth the strongly rumoured 250k per week that he is currently getting? Last year, he certainly didn’t play like he was worth all that money. His goals and assists tally wasn’t up to his usual standards, and its not like he hasn’t played behind a main striker a lot of times previously in his United career. Meanwhile, Kagawa, in his first year with United, played so well that most preferred that he start over Rooney. This really shouldn’t have happened. A player with just two years of experience in Europe (Kagawa) should not have become most fans preferred choice over Rooney (almost a decade as a Manchester United player, arguably England’s current best player, multiple years of experience at top level football) as RVPs partner.

Issue is, Rooney has many times been said to be anything but a model professional. Many times he has been seen drinking and smoking during the season, not taking care of his weight, and the result often is that he needs 2-3 games just to get match fit (let alone match sharpness). A player that earns the highest in the club should be a lot more professional and reliable than what he is right now. A person and professional like him, should not be making 250k a week based on his lack of professionalism during the season, his poor performances last season (based on the 250k per week standard), and because all this is a bad example for the rest of the squad and for younger players in the reserves and youth teams.

But still, people think he deserves the 250k per week, a new contract, and a possible wage rise. They say so just because he is Wayne Rooney, because of his performances in past seasons (other than 2012/13), and because he is a match winner. But so is Kagawa. He too is a top player, and a match winner. His performances in Dortmund, especially in his last season there, suggested that. So, since both are quality players on their day, and since both are potential match winners, should both of them be making 250k a week?

In my opinion, no, none of them deserve 250k a week. Kagawa still isn’t decisive enough, nor does he have the stamina, fitness (injury record) needed to earn 250k/week in MUFC. As for Rooney, his form comes in purple patches, and he can’t be dropped because he would then end up needing 2-3 matches to become match fit and sharp, which is ridiculous for a professional footballer in the middle of a season. But the case could be made that he contributes so many goals, that he earns the 250k, and I agree with that to an extent, but last season his stats were poor and so was his fitness, and so he doesn’t deserve such high wages anymore either.

Lets take the following scenario.

  1. Rooney given a new 250k per week contract before the start of the season, and he is then contracted until the summer of 2017
  2. He performs just as he did last season (which is below the standard he had set in previous seasons, which earned him the 250k/week wages.)
  3. RVP continues his fine form from last season (earning rumoured 200k per week), Kagawa ( rumoured 60k per week wages) improves and becomes as key a CAM as Rooney, and Chicharito (rumoured 60k per week wages) gets some more game time and his stats and performances also improve further.

Result of the scenario

  1. if RVP continues his good form in the upcoming season (2013/14), he would become (or continues to be, imo) a more important and decisive player than Rooney. Since Rooney has a new contract, till 2017, of 250k/week, what do you think RVP will ask for when he sees all this? Wouldn’t he want to get paid better, let alone the same, than Rooney? After all, he is the more important player at Old Trafford now. Since Rooney gets 250k/week for just scoring 13 goals and 13 assists (only including EPL and Champions League matches), what should RVP be getting paid for 29 goals and 8 assists (only including EPL and Champions League matches)? Wouldn’t RVP want more than Rooney? Maybe 350k/week, maybe 400k/week? But due to the money Rooney is making for producing less, RVP is well within his right for demanding more than him in his wages. Would this lead to problems in squad harmony, squad discipline, and wage structure?
  2. Last season Chicharito scored 13 and assisted 3 goals (only including EPL and Champions League matches) . But he played far less games than Rooney. What would happen, if next season Chicharito got more games? Surely he would have scored many more goals, and closed in on Rooney’s assist tally, right? I think so. As a matter of fact, I am willing to bet on it. If he get some more games next season, and gets more goals, will he be happy getting just 60k/week, knowing that Rooney gets 250k/week for the same type of output? Would this lead to problems in squad harmony, squad discipline, and wage structure?
  3. What about Kagawa? Last year was his first season with us, and he also clearly didn’t have the physical stamina necessary to play 90 minutes, week in week out. He struggled for games in the CAM position (when both him and Rooney were on the pitch together), due to Rooney being given games there regardless of his form and/or fitness. So Kagawa often played LW. but he still got 6 goals and 5 assists last season (only including EPL and Champions League matches). If we wasn’t playing second fiddle to Rooney (especially in the CAM role), and given some more games too, surely he would have reached Rooney’s goal tally of last season, and probably his assists tally too, considering he is a more natural at the CAM role, whereas Rooney uses the role as a support striker role? Kagawa reportedly makes around 60k/week. What happens when he performs better next season (assuming his stamina improves too), matches Rooney’s last season stats, whereas Rooney’s stats remain the same? Will Kagawa be happy with just 60k/week, while Rooney gets paid more than 4 times that figure for essentially churning up the same goals and assists tally? Would this lead to problems in squad harmony, squad discipline, and wage structure?

Below are the stats of the 4 players from last season (2012/13) using only the Premier League and Champions League matches.

Player Games Goals Assists
RVP 40(4) 29 8
Rooney 27(6) 13 13
Chicharito 14(14) 13 3
Kagawa 20(3) 6 5

NOTE: In Games Tally. the number in brackets means total substitute appearances, and number without brackets means total starts.

Wage Structure

There is no guarantee that Rooney will play like he used to in previous seasons, if he is given a new 250k/week contract this summer. If he gets the contract, and plays well, then we can all breathe a huge sigh of relief.

But if he gets the contract, and doesn’t play to the level expected of someone on such big wages, then the wage structure of the club will be unbalanced. Other players playing as “good” as him, will demand the same wages. Chicharito and Kagawa could certainly match Rooney’s stats if they got more playing time. Chicharito did very well considering he only had 14 starts, and Kagawa did well considering its only his first season here, among other factors previously mentioned. With more games, both of them (Chicharito and Kagawa) would match, or exceed, Rooney’s stats, and this could lead them to both demanding a lot more wages. If granted, the wage bill will shoot up, and tie up funds. Players will be rewarded with big contracts for performances that shouldn’t be meriting such wages. Then, when we enter transfer negotiations with a potential incoming player, his agent will look at the wage structure, and lets say that player is a striker. Then that striker, who averages 30 goals a season in a top league, will look at Rooney’s stats and wages, and will demand around 400-500k/week. Which is just crazy.

Wage structure is crucial, and has to be respected and efficiently maintained. A good manager like Sir Alex understood that, and I am sure so will Moyes. Had we been a sugar daddy club, where a Sheikh or some Russian tycoon owned the club, then we wouldnt have had to worry too much about wage structures and losing money, because the owner would have paid off the losses. But our owners are the Glazers, and we are a club run with sustainable principles, in all levels of the club, especially financially. Club policy is to make sure (or try to) that only 50% of total revenue is spent on total wages. United has been very clear that its operations on the pitch and off the pitch depend heavily on the wage structure.

What are options if we don’t give him a new contract this summer?

  1. Sell Rooney for market value, this summer itself to whoever wants to buy him, preferably abroad. Due to the special circumstances (Fergie retiring, Moyes joining, other strikers bought by most top clubs that needed strikers before the Rooney saga deepened, etc) there aren’t too many that would buy Rooney this summer. PSG bought Cavani, Monaco bought Falcao, Bayern are happy to wait till next summer for Lewandowski, Barca don’t need Rooney, Real Madrid probably not interested in him, etc, we are left with probably only one real buyer, and thats Chelsea. We should either sell him for market value (40-50 million pounds) to them, or cut price to a foreign team, and I prefer the latter.
  2. Keep Rooney for a year, and see how he plays. If he plays well, then offer him a new contract. This will preserve our wage structure, and minimise risks. Rooney will need to play well if he stays for a year, even if he is unhappy, because next summer is the World Cup, and Rooney will need to be on form is he is to play well in the tournament.
  3. If he plays poorly this upcoming season, then sell him next summer, for cut price to a foreign team. There will probably be some buyers, such as PSG, Monaco, etc.

Those are essentially our three options, and I am fine with all of them. But if we are to choose option 1, then its best if we use the funds to buy another CAM so that we have depth in the position, and so that we can have competition for Kagawa. Replacing Rooney’s goals and assists will be easy I feel, since with Rooney gone, there will be more starts (and goals and assists) for Kagawa and Chicharito, and I expect our wingers to be better than they were last season, which shouldn’t be difficult since they were rubbish last season. We need not buy a CAM to replace Rooney, if we want to give games to Januzaj, Lingard, etc. But, just to be on the safe side, its probably best if we get a CAM that is more developed and accustomed to first team action.

Rooney’s current market value

Also, I personally feel Rooney is worth 40-50 million pounds. I do think that is his market value. Why? Because…

  1. He is a quality striker. If he plays out and out striker, and if he is motivated and has to fitness issues, then he can score 30+ goals for anyone easily. He can even score 25+ goals as a CAM for another club as long as he is motivated. So, just because he isn’t playing well for us presently, doesn’t mean we couldnt/wouldn’t play well for another club.
  2. He has two years left on his contract, which allows us to charge market value from clubs that want to buy him this summer, if there are any buyers.
  3. He is a marketable athlete. His shirts sell, and he is among the top 10 most sold EPL shirts of last year. He is known worldwide, and bring sponsorships to the club he plays for. Its common practice for a marketable athlete to be worth a little more than just what the player can produce on the pitch.

Conclusion

I hope this Rooney saga ends quickly, and I hope its the best solution for us. Many of the casual fans in our fanbase are Rooney fanboys first, and United fans second. They prefer to see Rooney get a contract this summer itself, while ignoring all the potential perils of such a rash decision. Those fans need to ask themselves, are they Rooney fanboys first, or United supporters first?

The club should make the best decision for itself. The club is bigger than any player. If Rooney is to leave, we will survive it, and survive well. We have seen better players leave (even kicked out) of Old Trafford, and we have still been successful. I feel Moyes will be a success, because he seems to share the same principles as Sir Alex, and I am pleased to hear that he isn’t considering offering Rooney a new contract this summer, and instead places United’s interests first over what the Rooney fanboys want. Our new CEO, Ed Woodward (technically he is the CEO, even if he doesn’t have the official title) said that no contract renewal talks are in the pipeline for any player, let alone Rooney. So its good to see that Moyes and Woodward are placing the clubs interests first, and to be honest, those that claim to be United fans should walk the talk and place United’s interests top priority over that of Rooney’s interests.

Don’t compare our transfer spending with sugar daddy clubs, Spain top 2 and Bayern

This is a quick piece on something that really gets on my nerves. Which is, United fans, some of us, comparing our spending with the likes of Real Madrid, Barca, Bayern and sugardaddy clubs, and then bashing United for not spending like they do. 

In my opinion, when compared with the following clubs, we can’t compete on the same playing field financially. Those clubs are;

  1. Real Madrid

  2. Barcelona

  3. Manchester City

  4. Chelsea

  5. PSG

  6. Monaco

  7. Bayern 

Lets first go through Manchester City and Chelsea. Both are owned by sugar daddys. Their spending power dwarfs Manchester United. Don’t let the revenue tables and charts fool you. Their real spending power is a lot more than United. Not only do they have a rich owner, but that owner is willing to spend a good portion of his fortune in making his new toy successful. United is a club that is run using the same equation that majority of clubs and businesses are run, which is “don’t lose money”. 

If us, City and Chelsea go for a player, then those 2 can offer a bigger transfer fee, wage packet, and agent fee than we can. They have no fiscal limits, but we do have fiscal limits. No one is going to pay for our losses if we decided to go toe-to-toe for the players that interest City and Chelsea as well, certainly the Glazers won’t. Even though we have higher total revenue than both the other clubs, they could make a grand total of 10 quid each in total revenue, but their rich owners will still allow them to far more than we can, as well as snatch our own targets without breaking sweat. 

PSG too have a lot more money than we do, not to mention they are based in a much more “desired” city, with arguably better lifestyle and weather than Manchester. Their owners are prepared to do whatever it takes to get their transfer targets. The Lucas Moura episode showed us that. We had a bid accepted, along with personal terms and agents fees agreed. Until, PSG got interested in the 11th hour, and then bid a higher transfer fee than us, gave Moura higher wages, and his agent was promised a higher agent fee. We didn’t match what PSG offered, but lets say we did. Then PSG would have bid higher, then we would match it, then PSG would go higher, so on and so forth. Are we supposed to keep bidding higher transfer fees, wages and agent fees, regardless of our fiscal position? PSG don’t have a fiscal position, no bottom line, along with endless cash from their owners. We can’t compete with them when it comes to money, and 99.9% of the time, we will lose out on targets that they too are interested in. 

Monaco are new entrants to the transfer market. They too have a rich owner. So far, it seems we haven’t tried to go toe-to-toe against them, but there is a chance we could beat them to player both of covet, simply because we have Champions League football, whereas they don’t. But it didn’t stop them from getting players like James Rodriguez, who was playing in the Champions League with Porto, but won’t be getting it at Monaco for at least one year. Monaco are based in a tax free haven, and they too have a nicer climate than Manchester, and better lifestyle. When they enter the Champions League, then they too will reach PSG’s status, and we won’t be able to compete with them in the transfer market.

So far, we have covered City, Chelsea, PSG and Monaco.

Now, lets talk about Real Madrid and Barcelona.

Yes, both clubs are based in cities that have a sunnier climate and more exotic lifestyle. But, they aren’t owned by a sugar daddy, so surely we can compare them to United, right? Wrong. They make more money than we do, and can offer higher transfer fees and wage packets than we can. So, they would pretty much blow us out of the water. Why do they make more money than us, even though they aren’t owned by a super wealthy owner? Its because they make a lot more than money from their league TV deal, than we do from ours. This allows them to buy stars, that we get priced out of, and this has a knockon effect on their commercial revenue and sponsorships, which results in them having higher commercial revenue overall than us. So, combined they have higher total revenue than us, and the circle keeps going round, and we still can’t compete with them for the players that they too are targeting.

I wrote an article on this earlier where I compared revenue streams of us, Barcelona and Real Madrid. Here is a link to that article. 

https://khalid7891234.wordpress.com/2013/07/05/statistical-analysis-showing-why-la-liga-is-not-as-competitive-as-epl-how-this-benefits-spain-and-undermines-english-national-team/

But I will take a few figures from that article, to prove the point that I am trying to make.

Below are the figures each club got from their share of the TV revenue pie of their respective league (Liga or EPL) in the 2011/12 season. Figures are in hundreds of millions of pounds sterling.

Real Madrid 119.0

Manchester City 60.6

Barcelona 119.0

Manchester United 60.3

Valencia 40.8

Tottenham Hotspur 57.4

Atletico Madrid 39.1

Arsenal 56.2

Sevilla 26.4

Chelsea 54.4

Betis 24.7

Liverpool 54.3

Villareal 23.8

Newcastle United 54.2

Getafe 15.3

Everton 48.9

Espanyol 14.5

Fulham 47.4

Athletic Bilbao 14.5

West Bromwich Albion 46.6

Real Sociedad 12.8

Swansea City 45.9

Zaragoza 12.8

Norwich City 45.6

Osasuna 11.9

Sunderland 44.4

Malaga 11.9

Stoke City 43.6

Mallorca 11.9

Queens Park Rangers 43.3

Levante 11.9

Wigan Athletic 42.9

Sporting 11.9

Aston Villa 42.1

Granada 11.9

Bolton Wanderers 40.6

Rayo 11.9

Blackburn Rovers 40.3

Racing 11.1

Wolverhampton Wanderers 39.1

Below is the total revenue of the 3 clubs, from 2011/12 season. All three clubs ended in the same positions when revenue of other clubs was also factored in. The figures are in hundreds of millions of euros. 

1.) Real Madrid

513

2.) Barcelona

483

3.) Manchester United

396

After looking at these figures, are you still surprised that we can’t compete with Real Madrid and Barcelona when it comes to transfer fees, wage packets and agent fees? If you were, then you shouldn’t be from now on. Until we catch up to them in total revenue, we will never be able to compete with them for most transfer targets that they too covet. 

Now, lets look at Bayern. We can compete with them for the most part. But there are certain areas where we can’t compete with them. 

  1. Supplement our squad with best players from league title rivals. 

We can’t buy the best players from our rivals, and usually they won’t want to move to us anyway, since our immediate title rivals offer same or more in terms of wages. As for those that aren’t immediate rivals, the top players there may want to join us, and we can offer them more wages, but its hard to convince the rivals to sell, since they too are quite wealthy themselves (thanks in large part to the fair EPL TV deal revenue distribution method), and they put up a strong fight when it comes to selling their players to us. Look at Spurs for example, Levy would only sell a player to us after he has taken us to the cleaners and gotten every penny above the players market price that he could possibly extract from us, such as in the Berbatov saga. Of course, there are some exceptions, such as RVP, but we still paid above market value, for a player with one year left on his contract, with a history of injuries.

In the Bundesliga, most clubs aren’t as hostile to selling their top players to Bayern, as our fellow league members are to selling to us. Bayern are also far more richer than their league members, and offer far higher wages than others in the Bundesliga. Just look Bayerns wage bill and those of its league competitors as proof. Bayern can cherry pick the likes of Gotze and Lewandowski from Dortmund, and offer them much higher wages than what Dortmund could even if they moved heaven and earth for them. Now, lets say we were in Bayerns position, and Chelsea were in Dortmund position. Would we be able to easily persuade their top players to join us, using higher wages? Chelsea beat us to Hazard using higher wages, including higher agent fees. As for stature, Chelsea would beat us there as well, because most players would trade the stature of the club they play for (as long as its at least a Champions League club, usually) for more money from whoever pays him the most. We can’t cherry pick the best talent from our immediate league rivals, like Bayern can. But financially, us and Bayern are very much similar, but less obvious reasons are why they are better or more aggressive when it comes to transfers, one of which is that they have football men on their board of directors, unlike United. I covered this point in a previous article, which I will link below.

https://khalid7891234.wordpress.com/2013/07/21/why-moyes-was-the-right-choice-as-united-manager-over-mourinho/ 

Conclusion

so, its stupid to compare our spending and position in the transfer market food chain, with the following clubs; City, Chelsea, PSG, Monaco, Barca, Real Madrid, and to some extent Bayern. The Financial Fair Play rules may push us above the sugar daddy clubs, and the La Liga’s growing disparity could force Spanish politicians and smaller Liga clubs to react and this could bring us level, or push ahead of Barca and Real Madrid in terms of purchasing power. Us and Bayern are very similar, and I feel that us and them will be the top dogs in the market a few years from now, if FFP succeeds. 

But presently, other than these 6-7 clubs, we are top dogs in the market too. We can’t match those 6-7 clubs, but we are a lot stronger than hundreds and hundreds of other clubs. Also, we have never really had a reputation for buying the best players from around the world, so I don’t see why so many fans are disappointed. Did we ever bid for Zidane, Figo, Rivaldo, Platini, etc when they were all at their peak? In most cases, no. We do things differently. We tend to go after young, talented players, that we can turn into superstars. Just because we lose out on targets, doesn’t mean the transfer windows are flops. We lost out on Ronaldinho to Barca, and got CR7 instead. We lost out on Hazard and Moura, and got RVP and Zaha instead. Our present stature, and growing revenue will continue to make us strong in the transfer market, and as long as a few factors fall in our favour, then we will end up sitting on top of the food chain, along with Bayern probably. So, for goodness sake, lets stop comparing our spending with those clubs that we simply can’t match, due to them either having a sugar daddy, or killing the league just to serve their greed (RM and Barca).

Why Moyes was the right choice as United manager, over Mourinho?

Ever since Sir Alex announced his retirement, speculation was rife in the media and fans regarding who his successor would be. Many names were mentioned, but two names dominated the headlines, and they were Jose Mourinho and David Moyes. Sir Alex and United, chose Moyes. Some United fans loved the decision, some respected it and chose to support Moyes even though he wasn’t their favourite, and others still say that Mourinho was the much better candidate and choosing Moyes is a huge mistake.

I don’t think Moyes was the perfect candidate myself, but then again, I don’t think anyone was the perfect candidate to succeed Sir Alex. What he needed, was someone that could become another Sir Alex, so he would have to be someone young, hungry, knows the Premier League very well, and has similar personality traits as Sir Alex. Moyes and Mourinho both fit the bill, arguably.

But why was Moyes the right choice for United, and not Mourinho? The answer is complicated.

Lets first look at Manchester United. What does it represent? One of the things that it represents is the “British club model”, or “how a British club has been run, is being run, and should continue to be run”. In British clubs, the managers tend to have a lot of control over the direction of the club, including many matter off-the-pitch, and not just on-the-pitch matters. These managers are expected to, stay as the manager of the club for many years to come, at least that’s what the plan tends to be. This is very different from how the top clubs are run in mainland Europe. Look at 3 of our biggest rivals (Bayern Munich, Barcelona and Real Madrid), and you will see that we run operations very differently to each of them.

At Bayern, the Executive Board is made up of the following individuals;

Karl-Heinz Rummenigge (Executive Board Chairman)

Jan-Christian Dressen

Andreas Jung

Matthias Sammer

Jörg Wacker

The Supervisory Board is made up of;

Uli HoeneB (Supervisory Board Chairman) (who represents the Supervisory Board in Executive Board)

Herbert Hainer, adidas AG chairman (vice-chairman)

Rupert Stadler, Audi AG chairman (vice-chairman)

Timotheus Höttges, Telekom AG chairman

Karl Hopfner, Bayern Munich senior vice-president

Helmut Markwort, Publisher FOCUS Maganzine

Dieter Rampl, UniCredit Group advisory board chairman

Dr Edmund Stoiber, former Bavarian First Minister

Prof. Dr. Martin Winterkorn, Volkswagen AG chairman

Manchester United’s board of directors on the other hand, is very different from Bayern’s. A lot of United’s directors are members of the Glazer family, total of 6 out of 14 board members (16 if Sir Bobby Charlton and Sir Alex Ferguson are included, and 17 if the new Director of Media is included).

But what is odd, is that Sir Bobby Charlton is spoken of as a Director, but official documents, like annual financial statements don’t list him as a Director. Maybe Sir Alex Ferguson might be given the same treatment. David Gill stepped down as CEO, but remains on the board. His duties have been taken up by Edward Woodward, so he is in theory the new CEO, even though he still retains the title Executive Vice Chairman.

Going over the list of board members, I see one common trend, which is, a lot of Glazers on the boards, and a lot of the non-Glazers are money men. Which means, they are good at making money, and have a lot of experience in a field somewhat related to that, such as marketing, media, legal, finance, etc. This is all very good for making money, strengthening the United brand, making money out of the brand, gaining new sponsors, capturing new upcoming markets such as USA, China, etc.

But where are the football men? Where are the men with extensive knowledge and understanding of football and the industry? Where are the men that are on the board that help the United manager making football related decision? Compared to Bayern, who have 3 football men on the board (Rummenigge, Sammer and Hoeness), we have none on the board officially.

Gill is still on the board, and does have a lot of knowledge about how football works since he was our CEO for many years and probably learnt a lot from Sir Alex Ferguson, but how much decision making power does he have now that he isn’t the CEO? As a regular board member, his opinion is still valuable, but he has far less power, and influence than when he was a CEO. He was a friend and ally of Sir Alex, when he was the CEO, and he probably still is close to him, but how much power does he have as just a regular board member?

Now lets look at Sir Bobby Charlton. I have done some research on what exactly his role and responsibility is as a director, and I haven’t found anything. Nor is he officially listed as a director in official records. He is merely mentioned as a director verbally. He is 75 years old, and very well respected figure in the game. But how much influence does he have on the board? Can he have significant influence without officially being on the board of directors? How many contacts does he have in the sport? Is it significant enough to sway a target from signing for a domestic or foreign rival? Personally, I dont think he has any real power or influence on the board of directors, nor do I think he has serious contacts. Also, he is a very private man, always has been, and it would be unlike him to be involved in the nitty gritty of transfer negotiations. He is excellent for Manchester United, as an ambassador and has really helped the club in terms of growing our brand and attracting sponsors, and will continue to do so. Unfortunately, nothing more than that.

Our new CEO, technically, is Woodward. Brilliant money man, a favourite of the Glazers, and was brought in by them when the takeover was complete. But he doesn’t have any real experience of the football side of things. He hasn’t been a player, nor has be been in position where he bids for players using extensive contacts in football (such as club presidents/CEOs, agents, players, etc). This is really what worries me. Before the new era, our old partnership was the Sir Alex Ferguson and David Gill partnership (Ferguson-Gill, for short).

Gill was a novice too when he became CEO, but he had the best crash course in football education (contacts, knowhow, etc) that you can ask for, because the manager and mentor was Ferguson.

The new combination, is Moyes and Woodward. One is the manager of United, and not even a couple of months have passed with him officially as manager, and the other is a CEO that arguably doesn’t possess the same contacts and knowhow about the football side of things that a football club CEO needs. This is a very weird combination. Woodward was always going to be a favourite to become the next CEO, because he is a Glazer favourite, and good at the money side of things. But I felt we should have either got a CEO with a lot of experience running a football club, or should have asked David Gill to stay on as CEO for one more year. Both, the manager and CEO, are new to running Manchester United, and this would probably cause us to be inefficient for the first year at least (especially in the first transfer campaign, summer 2013).

Moyes will arguably have the best mentors he could ask for, and that is Sir Alex Ferguson and Sir Bobby Charlton. Currently Fergie is said to be a Director and Ambassador of United, but just like Sir Bobby Charlton, who doesn’t really hold any power in the board of directors, I don’t think Sir Alex is going to hold too much power in the board either, assuming he is an ever present in all the board meetings. But Fergie will certainly help out Moyes, just like Busby helped Fergie out when he was starting.

Woodward may be coached a bit by Fergie and Gill, as well. But I dont know what sort of a guy Woodward is, and how open will be to advice, or will he be very much his own man that would prefer to learn it all by himself. I am sure he is a good guy and will listen to advice, which will speed up the learning process, but I hope this doesn’t come at the expense of the success of this summers transfer campaign. His gut instinct is related to money and marketing, and that’s what he was doing with the squad on tour to the Far East and Australia. He was talking to sponsors and representing United in these corporate events. But does the CEO of a football club, in the summer, really need to go with the playing squad on tour? That too, at a time when no major incoming transfers have taken place, when a new manager is at the helm of the club, when a major transfer saga is underway (Rooney saga)? Shouldn’t he be in Manchester (or his London office) arrange incoming transfers of players that Moyes would like to sign?

Personally, I think Woodward should never have boarded the flight to the Far East, and should have stayed in London. Yes, its his first trip to the Far East as the CEO, but this could have waited till next summer. As Moyes said, his transfer business in the first few years will determine his success as manager, and I don’t understand why the CEO didn’t get the memo. Now, after submitting a bid for Fabregas, he flies back to Europe, in order to arrange the transfer. This is just ridiculous. I hope he doesn’t fly back out to the tour, whether the Fabregas move succeeds or not. He is needed on the continent, not in Hong Kong, Japan, Bangkok, Australia, etc.

Now lets look at why Moyes was the right fit at United.

Lets leave aside whether he is qualified enough as a manger to lead United. Lets just look specifically at what Moyes brings to the table off the pitch.

He is British, so its likely he would look at United as the pinnacle of his career, and would be unlikely to leave the club even if rivals came calling. So, he is a long term manager, if he is successful. He knows what its like to work under a budget, and had done so for over a decade at Everton. He doesn’t criticise the owners if he isn’t given the funds that match his ambitions, and does well with the resources at his disposal. In the decade that he was with Everton, he did a good job at turning the club from a lower midtable club into a club fighting for European spots, which is commendable considering he was up against clubs with more money than them, on either side of Everton’ league table finish. He works on making the foundation of the club stronger, and plans for the long term. Already in his first few weeks at United, he has spoken of the clubs great history, and how much he plans to keep adding to it. What is perhaps the best aspect of his plans, is how much he aims to use the youngsters from the academy and fine tune it further to produce the best young talents possible. He has many personal traits like Sir Alex Ferguson. He has a strong work ethic, hates losing, good motivator, people he works with speak highly of him and are loyal to him, and he is not a man to be messed with.

All this shows that Moyes was the best long term candidate, especially when compared to Mourinho.

Mourinho is brilliant in more ways that one. He is a great motivator of men, and his players are ready to kill for him (Ibrahimovic said so). Strong tactician, just like Moyes, and has won trophies in every club. But his record shows that he likes to change clubs every few years. This is a man that is more concerned about his CV, than the long term position of the clubs he manages. He is abrasive, and in most clubs he has had a lot of money to spend. He isn’t afraid to challenge the owners, in public, such as the omelette comment when he first took charge of Chelsea, which was a clear attack on the owner for not giving him enough funds. He does’t tend to work with young players from the clubs academies, and solely focuses on short term achievements, which is understandable, since he only stays with a club for a few years. He is the sort of man that would probably go down as a great manager, with an accomplished CV. But he would probably not go down as a legend at any club, other than Chelsea probably. Had he been United manager, one can expect he will be the same as he was everywhere else, which is focusing on the short term goals, and not working on the long term goals of the club. The manager that succeeds Sir Alex, had to be a long term manager. Sir Alex and Sir Bobby are not going to be around forever to give advice to current United managers, and its best if the one they groom for the manager job is one that will be here for the long term. Advice on Mourinho would be wasted, is said to quite arrogant,  and he would leave in a few years, plus, Sir Alex and Sir Bobby aren’t the youngest men either. Their advice could mean a lot to David Moyes and make him a successful, long term manager at United, one that could be remembered the same way Busby and Ferguson are.

We must keep in mind, that Mourinho is a short term manager, that focuses on short term success, whereas Moyes is a long term manager that focuses on long term success.

Someone like Mourinho, could theoretically work in a club like Bayern, where the board has enough former players (football men), who could not only keep Mourinho in check, but also make sure that short term success doesn’t come at the price of long term success. People like Rummenigge, Sammer and Hoeness would make sure that the foundations (such as youth academy, squad planning and developments, transfer campaigns [focusing on young player too, instead of just buying proven developed players which Mourinho prefers to buy], etc).

Someone like Moyes could work in the Bayern system too. In theory, he might even be the better fit than Mourinho if the criteria was a long term manager, who has a hands on approach with long term planning. But, due to the football men on the Bayern board, the need for a man like Moyes is not as crucial as it is for United, and so they can afford to hire managers like Mourinho, or other short term managers. Looking at the recent history of Bayern, most of their managers in recent history, have been short term managers.

They prefer that their manager focus on trophies, and team matters. The off-the-pitch matters, aren’t directly dealt with by the manager, or at least the manager doesn’t have as big an influence on such matters, that most managers in British clubs (especially Sir Alex Ferguson at United). As I have said, the reason they can do that, is because the board at Bayern has football men on it, who not only take up a lot of responsibilities and roles related to it, but they also help out the manager when it comes to transfers (such as arranging transfer campaigns, list of targets, building contacts with agents and other forces in the market, etc).

Someone like Mourinho could, and I am sure would, succeed at Bayern. He could succeed at United too. He is a winner, and his CV speaks for itself. But how would he fit in at United?

The board of directors at United, officially have no football men on the board. No Sir Alex Ferguson, no Sir Bobby Charlton, etc. David Gill is still on the board, with many years of experience as our CEO in the past, but I wouldn’t count him as a football man, but some might feel he is, so that is up for debate. Using my viewpoint, United’s board has zero football men. It is filled with men that are excellent at making money, and the club rightly has earned the unofficial title of “best club at commericialisation”. I wouldn’t dispute that title, because to me, United are the most aggressive and creative club when it comes to finding sponsors, making new and ambitious strategies to increase commercial revenue. The words and actions of the Glazers, and the CEO’s speak for itself.

Now, remember, Sir Alex and Sir Bobby, are very good advisors for whoever the United manager is, even though they aren’t board members. But they aren’t the youngest of men, and both are well into their 70’s. They won’t be around forever, unfortunately, to provide advice to the current United manager. The new man needs to be someone that is not only good at handling on-the-pitch matters (whether Mourinho, Moyes, etc), but the manager also needs to be good at, and capable of handling off-the-pitch matters. Someone like Moyes, who has done such things for over a decade at Everton, can do it. But someone like Mourinho clearly can’t in my opinion. Lets look at a few examples.

Example 1: Youth Academy

Mourinho isn’t the sort of man that tends to trust young players often. He doesn’t have a good track record of trying to promote youngsters from academies of clubs that he has managed (aside from Porto). Lets take his record at Chelsea. How many youngsters from the academy made it to the starting 11 on a consistent basis when he was their manager during his 1st spell? Not many. How many youngsters from the academy made it to the first team squad on a consistent basis when he was their manager during his 1st spell? Not many. How involved was he in the foundations and success of the Chelsea youth academy? Not much. If he was very involved, and had setup good foundations during his first spell, how well has it served Chelsea since he left? Their academy has been nothing more than an ornament, and the Chelsea starting 11 in big matches rarely sees their youth products. They barely even use those players as squad players.

Moyes on the other hand, has a very hands-on approach when it comes to the academy. He looks to develop young players in the academy, and find ways to promote them to the first team squad, and then to the starting 11. In some of his first interviews, he has spoken of the need to continue such work, not just because its his style, but also/mainly because the youth academy and our trust in talented home grown youngsters means a lot to Manchester United, its traditions and history. In this aspect, Mourinho won’t have fit in, but Moyes would have.

Example 2: Methods of dealing with the Board of Directors

Mourinho is the sort of manager that is very vocal/abrasive, and criticises the board when he wants/needs to publicly. Sir Alex Ferguson never did that, especially during the Glazers reign. I am sure everyone remembers the omelette comment he made, which to me was a clear attack on the board and their refusal to back him to his liking in the transfer market. Such a thing would never be tolerated at Old Trafford. Moyes didn’t publicly attack the board and owner while in charge of Everton (as far as i can remember), and the smart money is that he will continue this approach at United, and I am sure Sir Alex has made him aware of the need to continue such principles. When it comes to dealing with the board, due to the lack of football men on the board, it is the United manager that has a lot of say in matter on-the-pitch and off-the-pitch. He has to be able to plan, develop and present his viewpoints to the board, and has to take into consideration the long term vision, position and progress of the club, and not just the short term progress (trophies, being the most obvious one). Moyes can do the short term and long term roles that the board wants the manager to perform. Mourinho could arguably do the short term role better than Moyes, but he clearly can’t do the long term roles, in my opinion, especially because he doesn’t stay at a club for more than a few years.

These are just two examples, and I could have listed many more reasons why Moyes was the better all-round candidate than someone like Mourinho.

This is crucial phase in Manchester United’s history. We all wish Sir Alex Ferguson could continue as the manager, not just for a few more years, but forever in fact. That is what most of us want. But he isn’t getting any younger, and the torch has to be passed on. The question that faced the board was, do we go for a short term manager, or do we find the new Sir Alex Ferguson? In my opinion, Moyes has all the tools needed to become a legendary manager at United, and he could become another Sir Alex Ferguson. Many think the opposite, and feel the job should have gone to Mourinho. But to them we must ask, how much do you value United’s history, traditions, and principles?

I hope I have helped spark the debates in your mind, which I was trying to cover in this article. This article definitely doesn’t have all the answers or points/topics that I wanted to present. But I think it has sufficient material to spark the debates and ignite the process of finding the answer to the questions, which is, would you be willing to sacrifice United’s traditions and principles in favour of a man that focuses on the short term instead of the long term? The other question is, how much do you value United’s history, traditions, and principles, and if you value it highly, are you comfortable with Sir Alex Ferguson’s choice of asking/telling David Moyes to become not only the next United manager, but also the torch bearer of the club’s traditions, culture and principles?

Sir Alex Ferguson trusts David Moyes. That is enough for me. But I still thought about it, and I agree with his decision. I am sure he will be successful, especially in long term (even Sir Alex was a failure in his first years at United manager). I value United having a successful team to represent the club on the pitch. But I also highly value the clubs history and traditions, which if lost, would just turn United into an ordinary club, of which there are hundreds. Moyes may need time, but I hope all fans support him as he finds his feet, and starts his journey as manager of Manchester United Football Club, and hopefully, in his quest to become the new Sir Alex Ferguson. I leave you with Sir Alex’s farewell speech, which is a key item that I often referred to when I was asking myself all the questions posed to you in this article.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lT68Fx11ocw

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List of useful material

Bayern Munich’s executive board of directors. http://www.fcbayern.telekom.de/en/company/company/organe/index.php

Bayern Munich’s supervisory board. http://www.fcbayern.telekom.de/en/company/company/organe/00287.php

Manchester United board of directors, as of summer 2013. http://ir.manutd.com/phoenix.zhtml?c=133303&p=irol-govBoard

Manchester United management team, as of summer 2013. http://ir.manutd.com/phoenix.zhtml?c=133303&p=irol-govManage

Manchester United, annual report, 2012. [check page 74, which shows the list of Board of Directors, and their backgrounds on each member] http://ir.manutd.com/phoenix.zhtml?c=133303&p=irol-reportsannual