Browsing Tag

Juan Mata

All Part of the Plan?

In many ways, the just-completed transfer window was a sort of Greatest Hits complication of Manchester United’s mistakes from previous ones. So Greatest Misses, then?

For instance, there was the long, drawn-out and ultimately fruitless pursuit of a Barcelona midfielder who didn’t seem interested in leaving the Camp Nou.

There was the decision not to spend a reasonable amount of money to buy a player from the manager’s previous team, only to then get desperate, come back late in the transfer window and be forced to pay a premium.

There was the panic purchase of a top-class player who has won big trophies and could yet come good at United but probably isn’t a fit for their style of play.

And, of course, there was a transfer bid that seemed more like a late April Fools prank than a genuine deal.

The only thing that was missing was a group of shady intermediaries turning up at a team’s doorstep claiming to represent United only to be disavowed by the team. But then again, this window had a player’s mom scupper a move over wage demands, so there’s that.

Nevertheless, there’s a lot to like about what United ended up doing in the transfer window — costs be damned.

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Farewell To The Special Juan

Monday’s 3-0 victory over Brentford at Old Trafford was all about saying farewell. A farewell to this nightmare of a season. And, specifically, a farewell to outgoing players Juan Mata, Nemanja Matic, Edinson Cavani, and Phil Jones, each of whom received a warm ovation from the fans. They’ll be joined at the exit ramp by at least three players who didn’t play: Paul Pogba, Jesse Lingard, and most likely Eric Bailly.

It will be a long overdue housecleaning for United, which has lacked a coherent, consistent identity on the pitch and in the transfer market over the last eight years — a period that began when Mata helicoptered into Carrington looking like a cross between James Bond and a guy who sells bonds.

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Morgan Schneiderlin Never Had a Chance

Morgan Schneiderlin’s Manchester United tenure came to an early end when he went to the place where many United stars go when their careers don’t turn out the way they had hoped. On Thursday, the French midfield maestro joined Everton in a £20 million deal (potentially rising to £24 million). But did he ever really have a chance at Old Trafford?

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“A Season in the Red”: How David Moyes Beat Himself Before Chelsea, Everton, Man City, Liverpool (and a Ton of Other Teams) Did

“He is a modest man who has a lot to be modest about,” Winston Churchill reportedly said about political rival Clement Attlee. Of course, Attlee got the last laugh, defeating Churchill in the 1945 parliamentary elections, but the (possibly apocryphal) put-down lives on in political lore.

Churchill’s quip was on my mind as I read A Season in the Red, by the Guardian’s Jamie Jackson. The book, which was released this month in the United States, chronicles all of the various missteps and mishaps from David Moyes’s disastrous 10-month stint at Old Trafford. The book, which covers both Moyes’s ill-fated tenure, as well as the first year of Louis van Gaal’s reign, is written primarily from the perspective of the press corp covering the team during that tumultuous two-year period following Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement.

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When the Going Got Tough, Di Maria Got Going

In the end, Angel Di Maria’s only positive contribution to Manchester United’s history might be that he made other, less-heralded #7’s like Michael Owen and Antonio Valencia, look not-so-bad in retrospect. Oh, and he did score a ridiculous goal against Leicester City that was voted “Goal of the Year” by the Premier League. That was pretty cool.

After that, there aren’t many nice things to say about his time at Old Trafford.

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Wither the Manchester United Youth Academy?

A lot has been made of Manchester United’s decision to sell home-grown player Danny Welbeck to Arsenal while bringing in Colombian hitman Radamel Falcao from AS Monaco for a (potentially) astronomical fee. Predictably, many United alums are up in arms that the move is a betrayal of the club’s history of putting youth development first and giving prized academy graduates an opportunity to succeed with the first team. Former assistant manager Mike Phelan sounded the warning bell immediately after the transfer window shut, saying that the club was “losing its identity.” Eric Harrison, the famed youth team coach that won the FA Youth Cup in 1992 with the likes of Ryan Giggs, David Beckham, Paul Scholes, Nicky Butt and the Neville Brothers said he was worried the club would “lose its soul” by importing foreign stars and failing to give opportunities to academy graduates.

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