Why David Moyes is right not to dive into the January window


David Moyes anguish in the rainThe pressure on David Moyes to open the Manchester United chequebook will doubtless intensify following three consecutive defeats. There was already angst from many sections of United’s support following the Scotsman’s comments prior to Sunday’s match with Swansea City, in which he revealed it is unlikely that he will play a hugely active part in this month’s transfer frenzy. However, Moyes is right not to panic and rush into overpriced deals, in a desperate attempt to turn results around. The former Everton manager has not said that his United side does not require surgery in the form of new arrivals, as some have suggested. Rather, he has claimed that the players who are good enough to make a real difference to his side’s fortunes are unlikely to be available in the mid-season window. He is absolutely correct.

Manchester United are crying out for rejuvenation in three areas. Firstly, Moyes needs a deep-lying play-maker, to play alongside Michael Carrick, of the calibre of Borussia Dortmund’s ?lkay Gündo?an or Roma’s Kevin Strootman. However, like all of Europe’s big-hitters, neither Roma or Dortmund will come to the table to do business this month; they don’t need to.

GundoganDortmund sit third in the Bundesliga, with a winable Champions League last 16 clash with Zenit to come in February, while Roma have been Serie A’s surprise package this season, sitting second. In any case, with both players trying to play their way into their national squads for this summer’s World Cup, neither would want to unsettle themselves, risking their first team place in a successful team in order to try and adapt to a new culture, language and league, all whilst being burdened with saving United’s season. The same issues would apply to any speculative attempts to lure either Joao Moutinho or Wesley Sneijder away from their lucrative deals with AS Monaco and Galatasaray respectively.

If United were to set their sights a tad lower, they may find themselves similarly frustrated. After putting on a dominant Old Trafford performance for the second season in succession, Mousa Dembélé would be entitled to be sceptical regarding switching the Lillywhites for the Red Devils.

Following the pair’s New Year’s Day encounter, Tottenham sit three points and a place above United, with the elegant Belgian playing a starring role in Tim Sherwood’s new-look side. There is always the chance that Dembélé shares this writer’s view that Sherwood’s rudimentary approach isn’t sustainable, and would be open to offers. However, being another player playing for his World Cup place, a January move is unlikely be worth his while. Another player recently linked with the Reds is Yohan Cabaye, his winning goal in the Magpies’ 1-0 Old Trafford victory only serving to fuel the rumours.

Yohan CabayeIn the December clash, the Frenchman was the sharpest player on the pitch, finding space in advanced areas at will, as well as harranging United’s centre backs into mistakes on the ball, underlining the qualities he could bring to Old Trafford. However, while United are doubtless a more prestigious club than their North-East namesakes, presumably with the capacity to swell Cabaye’s pay-packet, they would have to make a huge offer for Mike Ashley to cash in at this stage, with European football an achievable goal for the Barcodes.

Moyes has rightly drawn criticism for wasting too much of his summer with his protracted and doomed attempt to lure Cesc Fabregas from Barcelona, with his failure to focus on more achievable targets leading to the last-minute, over-the-odds purchase of Marouane Fellaini. However, the Scotsman is clearly keen not to make the same mistake again, for which he should be praised, not lamented.

Moving to the left-back area, Moyes may be able to reignite his loan interest in Real Madrid’s Fabio Coentrao, but otherwise, his January options are limited. Roberto Martinez has already declared that long-term target Leighton Baines will not be leaving his fifth-placed Everton side this month, while bidding for Southampton starlet Luke Shaw appears to start at £20million; very steep for a full back. Even a move for Coentrao is likely to be dependent on a chain of transfers being completed; a rarity in January. Los Golacticos are unlikely to let their Portuguese star leave without having suitable cover lined up, and have been heavily linked with a cut-price move for Ashley Cole, currently out of favour at Chelsea. However, Jose Mourinho is unlikely to be in a hurry to sell his reliable England man, until he has completed a deal for Shaw, whom the Saints do not need nor want to sell.

Alberto MorenoSevilla’s Alberto Moreno has been linked with a move to United, but Moyes would face competition from Manchester City and Liverpool for his signature, as well as having to pay the customary January premium. Despite the Frenchman’s woeful form this season, Moyes would be foolish to sell Patriice Evra this month and scramble around for a replacement. Paris St Germain and Monaco will still be interested and oil-rich in the summer, when Moyes will have had more time to scout a suitable incumbent of the number 3 shirt.

The final area in which United must improve is on the flanks. Moyes is not short on options in this department; Adnan Janujaz, Antonio Valencia, Nani, Ashley Young, Shinji Kagawa and Wilfried Zaha have occupied wide positions this term, while Danny Welbeck, Wayne Rooney and Ryan Giggs can all deputise, but too many of these players have underperformed this term. In an attempt to examine his entire squad, Moyes has never settled on his first choice wide-men. He has experimented with the use of inverted wingers, even frequently stationing Kagawa very narrowly on the left, while also choosing Valencia’s touchline-hugging approach on numerous occasions. He has shown a surprising loyalty to crossing from wide areas, which, given the the lacklustre showings from the flanks, should be tempered in the second half of the season. Settling on the attacking approach he feels is most effective should be the Scot’s first objective when looking to improve the contribution of his wide players. From there, he can decide who is worth their place at the club, and identify his summer targets. Any January purchases in this department would be futile, while Moyes still appears unsure of exactly what he wants his wide-men to produce.

Moyes knows he must use the transfer market to improve the fortunes of his United side; he has said as much as himself. However, he is experienced and realistic enough to realise the players he needs are unlikely to be available in January, and his comments this weekend were purely aimed at managing United fans’ expectations for the forthcoming month.

Moyes’ declaration that a proactive summer could be ahead has been largely dismissed, but there is evidence to suggest that these words represent more than an empty promise. Moyes’ £35million pound bid for Cesc Fabregas shows that United have the financial clout they will need to do big business in a World Cup summer, while Coentrao would currently be a Red Devil if the required paperwork had been submitted in time, on September 2nd. Also, Gundogan’s contract talks at Dortmund are stalling, while Strootman’s agent has expressed his belief that Old Trafford is his client’s eventual home. However, failure to finish in the Champions League positions would undoubtedly make Moyes’ recruitment drive much more problematic, so he is wise not to embroil himself in January’s madness; using the month to improve the performances of his current players, while continuing to scout new ones for the summer ahead is a much more productive use of the Scot’s time.

Sam (@UnitedAnalysis)



  1. You are correct in that David Moyes should not purchase anyone in this transfer window, but United should!

  2. He should bring in players to save this season even if they are just quick fixes, we don’t care. He messed up by letting Phelan and the back room staff go so owes us a decent second half of the season. Still believe he will come good. In moyes we trust. ggmu

  3. I don’t care how hard it is, Moyes just has to find a way to sign a couple of top players. If he moans that it’s too dificult he should be reminded that it’s entirely his fault for not making sensible signings in the summer when it was easier. If he dares to sign no one by the end of January he should be immediately sacked. What good is a manger who is incapable of signing players?

  4. What makes moyes think that any player of quality would want to join utd in the summer?.All the obvious downfalls have already been spelt out previously. Anyone who has a decent world cup can have their asking price doubled overnight, so your talking serious money to lay out.Any player playing in the world cup is gonna be coming back late into pre season, so that haa to be taken into account.For me though, the biggest problem is the “David moyes”factor.What world class player would want to come to Manchester to be coached and managed by a set up with tactics and training regimes from the Tommy doc era?.We’re basically bolloxed with moyes in charge,just a sad fact.

    • @THE RED BARON: Yeah, that’s the other flip of the transfer coin. On the one hand, players are “probably” more expensive in Jan…on the other hand, players will be “probably” more expensive after the World Cup (traditionally, no one does business until After the tournament in fear of unsettling the players during the tournament).

      • @Karl: For any manager its a no win situation during world cup year, whether buying or selling.What worries me though, if our paper thin squad is depleted with more injuries, which is quite possible, doesn’t bare thinking about how our season would end up without some sort of reinforcements.Think the only other option is bringing someone in on loan till the season ends, then re evaluate everything then.

        • @THE RED BARON: Agree. It also won’t make sense to send Zaha out on loan (perhaps for the player it would be a good move) and not recall Powell.

  5. How is this a good thing for the club?Last night,’Sunderland’,the club at the bottom of the league,overpowered our ragged midfield,whilst our defence failed to contain the likes of Borini & Johnson.Its one thing knowing that no world class player will risk coming to United in January,but it is another thing entirely to not even attempt to bring in anyone,when what we have is not even trying to get the job done.All this talk of Koke’s,Diego Costas and Herrera’s make me sick.How about bringing in a Shawcross,McCarthy or Ince.None of these players will cost even near 40 Million.Moyes is unrealistic and foolish to think he will make the top 4 at this rate when its obvious Cleverley,Young and Anderson can’t cut the grade.Zaha is rotting on the bench,whilst Powell and Lingard are in the Championship when they should be on the first team bench at least.We need January signings.There is no way around that.

    • @Everton: The performance at Sunderland was poor, and I agree that Moyes should definitely give some of his loan stars a chance. However, I don’t think Ince or Shawcross would make a huge difference to our side. McCarthy is a very good young player, but United couldn’t get him in January anyway, Everton won’t sell. Also, I he has already played for Wigan and Everton this season, and because you can’t play for three teams in one season, he couldn’t play for United until 2014-15 anyway.

  6. I do not buy this. I know we always hear this…. it’s impossible to get who we want now, because the only players good enough are x,x,x. And all those players, happen to be talked about constantly. It’s nonsense. In 2 years the constantly talked about names are going to be completely different. Every single team in Europe, except the one that gets him, is going to do fine without Gundogan. He is not the single midfielder worth having. He is not one of five midfielders worth having. Of the top league teams, in Germany, France, England, Spain, and Italy, that’s just 5 leagues to look at, that makes whats that get you, a couple hundred midfielders? Some defensive, some creative. You cannot tell me there is no creative midfielder outside the handful that every talks about. It’s nonsense. And since we’re talking United, let’s expand that list of leagues, because really, what is the point of being United if you aren’t watching all the best leagues, let’s consider the top 20 domestic leagues in the world, and the top five midfielders in each league. If can’t find talent in that list you aren’t trying. There are midfielders, good midfielders, that we could get right now. There are excellent players at every position.

    I should never hear a big club tell me there are no targets. That tells me one thing, the scouts need to be sacked. If scouts can’t find talent, in literally an entire globe of people playing football all over the world, you need to stop paying them. The trouble any halfway decent scout should have should be narrowing down such large lists of potential players.

  7. Money makes signings, not players wishes, world cups and so on. If you have money, you can easily sign top players even in January. Chelsea, PSG, City, Bayern proved that to us countless times. If you don’t have money, than you have to make excuses. That’s what Moyes is doing now-making excuses, because he has no money to spend, and he has to say something to the fans and general public since results are abysmal and squad is clearly mediocre-that’s why the whole “hard to sign players in January” story surfaces again and again.

    Take any of our transfer targets as an example. Koke, for instance. His salary is 1.5 million per year and Atletico is not a rich club. Give him 6 million per year and give Atletico 30 million and he will come without a hitch. But that is not compatible with Glazernomics, that (as Woodward nicely and clearly explained us in November) favors money extraction over results. Therefore-not gonna happen.

    What is going to happen is the following: they will delay all transfers for the summer, than they’re going to “chase” players like Fabregas, Ronaldo, Ribery-which clearly won’t be coming. And in August they’ll say: “We tried everything but it failed, but still, we’re satisfied with what we’ve got and we have players coming back from loans”.

    Just look at the statistics-Stoke and Sunderland in the last 8 years spent more than we did. It’s not exaggeration-it’s a fact. And without overachieving Ferguson-we’re just gonna occupy the places on the table that belong to our level of spending-that is, places reserved for Stoke and Sunderland-mid table.

    They’ll give Moyes two or three years, than they’ll sack him, and bring somebody like Sam Allardyce or Alan Curbishley-someone who’s cheap and doesn’t ask for a big budget. They’ll sell Rooney, Persie, Januzaj (if he fulfills his potential) and finally the club, after they have stripped it of all the assets and made big money out of it. As for football-who cares about it. I bet Malcolm Glazer hasn’t seen a football match in his life, and cannot distinguish offside position from a corner flag.

  8. If you bid £15m for Cabaye then you would get him, £17m tops as Mike Ashley loves cash. Coentrao appeared interested in the Summer and a loan deal would be good, but even a purchase of £12m to £15m would be decent value for an international with 30 caps.

    United have to do something as there is no point waiting until the Summer completely. This current squad will not make the Champions League and then we are in huge difficulties. We know players wont come to clubs not in the CL unless they are paid a fortune as City did.

    We need the Glazers out – get your Green and Gold scarf out again. Get behind the manager for now, support your team like never before and vent your anger on the bald American parasites that are ruining our club.

    • Just read in the Independent that Coentrao is a lazy fucker who likes a fag, should fit in nicely.

      • @giggyjon: None of that matters, cause he ain’t coming according to Moyes. Although it is funny that Coentrao is someone we’re supposed to feel excited about it.

        It’s like there is this elaborate fraud of creating hype around players that no one really thinks are going to be world class, but know can skate at around the level it takes to not be embarrassing, maybe even vaguely useful in a decent side. Then a giant club swoops in, plays them a few times spread liberally across a couple seasons, and tells anyone that’ll listen that for a talent like that, the future of their club, they’ll need a pretty penny and everything will need to be right for them to part with them. A cute little doubling of the original fee and everyone walks away happy. Well, except the team that actually wanted a decent player. Pure bullshit on the part of agents.

        And it’s not not is would be super hard to get an actual talented player. You look across a bunch of leagues, let’s say the 20 biggest. You disregard what everyone is saying, because everyone is full of shit. You find players you like, that are getting solid playing time, that do what you want them to do. Then, you throw a lot of money at that club, because you’re going to be buying a player that is important to their club.

        None of that applies to Coentrao. He’s pure hype. He can probably play reasonably well, he would have to for the hype machine to work, but he isn’t the future of Real, and he isn’t the future of United either.

    • @giggyjon: I agree that Cabaye and Coentrao represent our best chances of recruiting quality in this window; very good point.

  9. Buying 2 players (MF and DEF), no matter whether they are head and shoulders above what we already have, would send a message to our dressing room that the present standard of play is unacceptable.
    Moyes is annoyed at his current squad but has no ammunition to fire a shot across their arses. If Moyes knew what was best he would use this window as reason to let Welbeck and Co. know that things have changed and that they need to change along with it.

    This whining from the squad about this and that needs to stamped out – and with a vengeance.

    • @Redrich: Considering the position Moyes is in, I think you have listed his best possible move. Well done and I hope Moyes doest this..

    • @Redrich: Moyes definitely does need to send a message to the players, because the current poor level of performance isn’t good enough, as you say.

  10. Hiroshi Kiyotake, go and buy him. His stats are sick. He’s an attacking midfielder, playing for a nothing team, and his game to game stats are outstanding. He would come in and play HARD, since he’s already playing out of his mind on an awful team. 20-30 million, 40? Who cares, get him.

    Julian Draxler is a no brainer. All upside, already in the German nation team.

    There are so many great midfielders out there, much, much, much better than what we have.

    I was just looking at Sidney Sam, thinking, wow, his stats look fantastic, and to really twist the blade in for the whole ‘can’t get anyone to move in January’, he just moved to Schalke yesterday. I would have welcomed Sidney Sam for sure. If the argument is always going to be that we won’t buy anyone that doesn’t come from a huge club, or, that every other huge club is trying to buy, we will be completely screwed. Sidney Sam would have been a great signing. If it would have taken 30 million to make it happen, it would have been dirt cheap for what it would have got us. Shame on United’s scouts.

    • @Ben: But what are they going to learn from Moyes’ hoof the ball upfield football?

      There are no development prospects for a technically gifted player under Moyes.

      • @The_Philosopher:

        I don’t know honestly. Then again, I don’t think players go to learn really, at least not players that are close to world class, players we would be trying to bring in. I would imagine they come into sides to accomplish things. To see how high they can rise in the footballing world. The question then is, would players feel they could achieve anything with Moyes. I have no idea. And yeah, that is a troubling question. It’s not a very inviting proposition to be brought into a disaster and expected to turn it around, knowing that if you fail(which incidentally will not be your fault), it will not exactly be a glowing recommendation on your CV to have played for the most pedestrian United squad in recent history.

        I would hope that Moyes could give new players big money, and have just enough managerial skill to not piss away a talented midfield. And god, please stop talking about being unlucky, and the refs, please.

    • @Ben: The Sidney Sam point is a brilliant one. He is a very good player, and I must admit, I didn’t think that Leverkusen, sitting second in the Bundesliga, having recently beaten Dortmund, would sell one of their key players.

      I have just read the details of his transfer. The fee Schalke will pay is £2.5m, which is absolute peanuts. However, he will complete his move in the summer, so wouldn’t resolve Moyes’ current problems. That United could have offered, say £8m, and got him now is quite plausible, however, so this deal does represent a chance missed for Moyes, for sure.

  11. This all comes from the fact that no one interviewed Moyes before they gave him the job.

    They should have had several candidates and asked him what they thought of the current United team, what its strengths and weaknesses were and how they would improve them. Any good candidate should be able to reel off a list of players they would be interested in signing. If he just mumbles something about it being hard to sign good players, show him the door! This is a multi-million pounds-a-year job we are talking about here.

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