This summer, so we’re being told, will be one of the most important in Manchester United’s recent history, with a new manager and a major overhaul required to ensure United return to the upper echelon of English football. Last summer it wasn’t much a case of United fluffing their lines in catastrophic fashion as of them completing forgetting the plot of the play that had them as main characters, as the sheer ineptitude of Ed Woodward combined with David Moyes’ inadequacy ensured United’s only signing was Marouane Fellaini.
This season the emphasis will obviously be on the arrivals, with Louis Van Gaal – or whoever will replace Ryan Giggs – likely to be trusted with a budget that, according to which newspaper is your favourite read, will vary from £100m to twice that amount. However, while a couple of world class signings would be more than welcome, United’s priority should be to shift those players who are either no longer of any use or have never served any purpose whatsoever.
Having dedicated 12 years to the cause and, social media-driven stupidity aside, having been a fantastic servant to the club, Rio Ferdinand was ushered out of the door without any of the fanfare reserved for his old partner in crime, Nemanja Vidic. While Vida was given a standing ovation in his last appearance at Old Trafford and then on his final game in a red shirt at Southampton, Ferdinand was told he was surplus to requirement in the tunnel after United’s final game of the season, another PR masterstroke by the utter clown that is Ed Woodward.
Having been a defensive liability for a couple of seasons, one feels that despite his unconditional love for the club and all things United, Patrice Evra could soon follow his comrades out of the door, particularly if United are to succeed in their pursuit of Luke Shaw, the £30m-rated Southampton left-back who could become Louis Van Gaal’s first signing.
However, while past his best, keeping Evra at the club for a further 12 months would make sense – even though he should no longer be first choice at left-back – particularly considering that United’s only other option in that position is a man who remains one of the most bizarre signings of the Fergie era and, truth be told, looks like a kid who’s won a contract with United on the back of a competition sponsored by a soft-drinks producer.
Ashley Young, Tom Cleverley, Nani and the soon-to-return Anderson have been stealing a living at the club for a disastrously long time now and should be moved on. Nani and Anderson, in particular, embodied one of United’s biggest problems in recent years: mediocre players signed to ridiculously long contracts, a club the include serial loanees Bebe and Federico Macheda.
Nani was given a new five-year deal a year ago – in hindsight, that should have warned us about what was to come under Moyes – while Anderson was rewarded with a five-year contract in 2010, despite having done very little to deserve a second opportunity in the three seasons he had spent at the club up until then.
Unless Fiorentina decide to trigger the option to secure him permanently – which would be rather odd, given the limited impact Anderson has had in the eight games he’s played in Italy since he was loaned out in January – Anderson will remain at Old Trafford until the summer of 2015 when, mercifully, he’ll be then told to pack his bags and leave for free.
Football’s ultimate lottery winner, Bebe, could join him, given he too will be a free agent in 2015 and given there’s absolutely no chance of United making a pound out of him, the best we can hope is for him to be loaned out again next season. Meanwhile, having traveled Europe back and forth with different loan spells, Macheda will no longer be a United player from July 1st as his four-year deal has just over a month left to run.
Not only have United not bought well in recent years – Robin Van Persie, Juan Mata, David De Gea and Javier Hernandez being the only notable exceptions – but they’ve been even worse at handing out contracts and selling players. Moyes’ successor might have to focus on the arrival terminal, but he must also ensure the departure gate is just as full if United are to return to success.
Excerpts of this article were originally published here.