After a long summer of numerous links and potential signings, the transfer window has come to close. About a week ago I started writing a post about what was needed by the end of the transfer window to avoid the summer having been deemed a failure overall. It had initially seemed that Ed Woodward and the club had made the same mistake last year and not provided enough financial backing for the manager to address the variety of problems throughout the squad. I’d even added a joke about the club signing a striker before another midfielder (Okay, so that one happened but who would’ve thought that striker would be Falcao). Yet, as each day passed I had to edit what I wrote and it all came to a climax on Monday when pretty much everything I had identified was addressed and as a result I will now be writing about the great success of this summer’s transfer window.
From the first game against Swansea, the defence has looked a little inept, to put it politely. Granted it is a back five plagued with injuries, not to mention the three most experienced players in the unit from last season had all departed in the summer with only Luke Shaw to replace them. It doesn’t take a genius to deduce that left the club a little short defensively. The signings of Rojo and Blind are wise in that both players have experienced playing in a 3-5-2 system and doing so with relative comfort and success as shown recently at the World Cup. Whilst the experience has not been replaced it does mean that the likes of Blackett and Keane will not have to be thrust into the spotlight until they’re ready. Blind and Rojo provide an added bonus of being very versatile in defence and in the former’s case the ability of utilising him in midfield which looks to be crucial in the absence of Michael Carrick.
One of the glaring weaknesses so far in the season has been the lack of quality in United’s midfield, the likes of Fellaini, Fletcher and Anderson have been a midfield equivalent of Fernando Torres, which is to say not very good at all. The club’s signing of Ander Herrera early in the window will go some way to resolve those problems, but as seen on the weekend, when he is injured, the team looked unbalanced with both Mata and Di Maria operating from a central role. The team’s passing looked laboured and without idea, save for the odd moment of ingenuity from Di Maria’s left foot. It would have been unthinkable for the club not to have added an extra pair of legs in midfield if they are going to achieve a top four position.
Going into the season, United’s attacking options appeared to be a position of strength and depth but have failed to live up to their reputation. Perhaps it is the change of formation but the trio of Mata, Rooney and Van Persie have all looked disappointing and rather immobile. The signings of Di Maria and Falcao provided a much needed injection of speed and a willingness to get in behind defenders, which gives the team a different dimension going forward, a dimension that should achieve a better return than two goals in three games.
Falcao was the biggest shock during the transfer window with his deadline day move to Old Trafford and the Colombian striker could be the difference maker now in this side. In terms of talent he is arguably the only striker in the league to rival the ability of Sergio Aguero. Falcao isn’t going to drop deep for the ball in the same manner as Wayne Rooney but rather he is going to torment defenders playing off their shoulder and looking to exploit the space behind them much like Diego Costa has done so far at Chelsea to deadly effect. Some may argue that signing Falcao was unnecessary and that other positions required more attention but when you consider the issues over the health of Van Persie and his general play since scoring against Spain in the World Cup he has looked decidedly mediocre and though replacing him with a striker just coming off a long lay off may be risky, the potential reward is too great to ignore as is Falcao’s record around Europe scoring 155 goals in 200 games for Porto, Atletico Madrid and Monaco combined.
Given the quality of additions in the final week of August, the biggest criticism of United’s dealings has to be why it took so long? When you consider the efficiency of Chelsea’s transfer window and the rewards reaped early on from giving time for new signings to bed in, it is a question that deserves an answer. Of the four players signed, three of them had their intentions publicly known that they wished to leave their current club for differing reasons. Many will point to Van Gaal’s comments about wanting to give everyone an opportunity in the team but you have to wonder whether the success of pre season may have clouded the judgement of the management about the quality within the team. In the end the transfer window is reminiscent of Arsenal’s spending sprees in previous seasons after a poor start with United throwing money at a problem to try and fix it. Throwing money at the problem is the best way to solve a problem in modern football but United fans will hope the transfers were considered beforehand as opposed to a desperate last minute attempt to buy whoever was available.
After all has been said and done, the transfer window looks to be the most successful in the club’s recent history. A number of problem areas have been addressed, whilst a lot of fat has been trimmed from the squad’s wage bill as well as removing those who were surplus to requirement. The one departure that might disappointment is that of Danny Welbeck but the club has been well compensated for his services and the arrival of Falcao will certainly comfort most. In what is likely to be the club’s most important transfer period for the past two decades, there is a lot of optimism surrounding the future. Surely the only way is up now for the club?