The morning after the night before felt discouraging and underwhelming, the disappointment amplified by a summer of empty promises.
United fans went to bed dreaming of Ander Herrera and Sami Khedira and woke up to the news that Marouane Fellaini had become a Manchester United player overnight.
The Belgian could well prove an astute signing but the harsh truth is that United forked out £27m when, less than a month ago, they could had signed the same player for £23.5m.
David Moyes’ decision to let Fellaini’s release clause expire in a bid to secure a cheaper deal for the former Everton man backfired spectacularly, while the farce surrounding the offers for Ander Herrera and Fabio Coentrao provided the fitting end to a summer throughout which the club despite sheer ineptitude and arrogance.
With Sir Alex Ferguson retiring, United were expected to enter a new era with a bold and resolute approach, one through which Moyes could have been presented with a solid shot at silverware in his first season at the club.
Instead, they bottled it.
Hindsight is a luxury available at a premium in football, but Moyes should have been given more time to build his squad than the two months of dithering he oversaw since he began working on July 1.
The former Everton manager spoke of the enormity of the job awaiting him, on the pitch as well as off it, and could have done with an expert guide to assist him through the rough seas that is the transfer window.
Moyes’ ability to work on a limited budget proved of little relief to his new club, while his decision to sign Marouane Fellaini will offer more ammunitions to the legion of fans believing that the Scotsman’s only strategy was to turn to his former club.
Moyes, however, can feel himself let down as much as the fans themselves, who were promised a luxury weekend away and were left with the equivalent of a steak night in the local pub.
While Chelsea and Manchester City strengthen their teams, United we’re left chasing unrealistic targets, displaying remarkable arrogance by thinking that the likes of Thiago Alcantara and Cesc Fabregas would decline the chance to join Bayern Munich and stay at Barcelona to become United’s marquee signings.
United simply do not have the same pulling power of other European heavyweights, nor the organisation needed to supply to the lack of financial resources available to the likes of City, Chelsea, Monaco and PSG.
Furthermore, despite an alarming lack of option in the middle of the park, the club insisted with its pursuit of a left-back, while banking on the fans’ gullibility to perpetuate the lie that a deal for Cristiano Ronaldo was being thought about.
United fans believing that the Glazers have done nothing but helping the club since the takeover have very little to complain about Ed Woodward’s incapacity, for he’s the man who brokered the deal through which the Glazers assumed control of the club in 2005.
Having been promoted to replace David Gill, Woodward was never likely to bite the hand that was feeding him and quietly went about his business, one in which commercial partners are more important than footballers.
Those who believe that United didn’t need reinforcements as they won the league at a canter last season clearly ignore that, to name but three clubs, Bayern Munich – treble winners last season – Barcelona – Spanish champions in 2012-13 – and Juventus – Serie A winners in the last two seasons – concluded their business by late June.
With David Moyes left to deal with Wayne Rooney’s malaise – arguably United’s only success this summer was standing up to Mourinho – targets disappeared at an alarmingly quick rate, forcing United to scrape around the barrel of deadline day like a drunken man desperate to find a bar still open after midnight.
The farcical circumstances that surrounded the failed attempts to sign Ander Herrera and Fabio Coentrao dashed any hope that United could save their summer on deadline day, while Moyes’ stubborn refusal to meet any release clause could become concerning.
Furthermore, Fellaini had obviously been United’s plan A all along and David Moyes could have done with him in the middle of the park against Liverpool – a club that, painful as it might sound, has operated infinitely better than United this summer – so why wait until the 11th hour?
Fellaini is undoubtedly an improvement on the paucity of options that had crippled United’s midfield until yesterday, but another addition would have been incredibly beneficial, particularly considering that Moyes has failed to get right of the likes of Anderson and Ashley Young.
The summer of 2013 will be remembered as the summer when Gareth Bale became the world’s most expensive footballer, Spurs went on a spending spree and even Arsenal broke the bank for a top player.
United, meanwhile, passed on the opportunity to strengthen their squad. As they say, it’s the hope that kills you.
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