A Manchester United legend has voiced concern over the summer’s transfer strategy, using two of the signings as key examples to support his view.
In Richard Arnold’s first transfer window as chief executive, United bought six new players: Tyrell Malacia, Lisandro Martínez, Christian Eriksen, Casemiro, Antony, and Martin Dúbravka.
Noticeably, Arnold handed new manager Erik ten Hag the keys to United’s transfer kitty rather than an established recruitment team.
United’s recruitment over recent years has been viewed as embarrassingly unhinged in comparison to rival clubs. A director of football was only appointed last year in the shape of John Murtough, who had already worked within the club for half a decade.
Murtough and Arnold’s decision to seemingly revolve this summer’s strategy around Ten Hag’s preferences and acquaintances – illustrated by the three-month pursuit of Barcelona player and number one target, Frenkie de Jong – has begged questions about the long-term planning and quality of sporting operations within the club.
De Jong was set to be United and ten Hag’s marquee signing with sources labelling the initial budget to be around £120million. The Dutch midfielder stayed at Barcelona and United doubled their original transfer expenditure plan on acquiring other targets.
Gary Neville has spoken about this lack of strategizing and confusing transfer budget.
Speaking on The Overlap’s Fan Debate Xtra, Neville voiced concern, saying:
“Manchester United wanted to spend about £130m-£140m, they ended up spending £230m.
“Obviously, we’ve seen it before with the Glazer family – loads of trouble, protests building, invest the money to try and appease the fans and basically panic-buy.
“It wasn’t the strategy at the start of the summer to spend the money they’ve spent.”
In his latest tirade against the Glazer ownership, Neville provides good reason to remain cautious over the inner workings and decision-making at United.
The former captain has recently started unleashing rants about the American businessmen. The Glazers have raised United’s debt to over £600m as a result of the leveraged takeover, consistent dividends, and financial mismanagement and neglect.
Even with the refurbished backroom staff scene, Murtough and his recruitment team have been unable to implement a sound transfer strategy. As Neville highlights, the targets were inconsistent in profile and further funds were only made available following the terrible start to the season.
Although the failure at the end of the De Jong saga ultimately led United to spend big late in the window and “panic-buy”, Joel Glazer is said to act as a barricade against fluid transfer negotiations. He insists on involving himself within discussions and on sanctioning every single deal.