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Opinion Piece

Beware of the January transfer window

nemanja-vidic-08Rarely has a Manchester United squad entered January in more urgent need of an injection of quality than David Moyes’ 2013/14 vintage. The Old Trafford side have spluttered through the first half of the season, possessing a squad made up of a makeshift central midfield, uninspired set of wingers and shaky group of fullbacks.

Yet fans desperately calling for substantial transfer activity this month should be wary: the January window, a time of inflated prices, shoddy scouting and expensive panic buys, is a notoriously difficult moment to do business.

Whilst United have occasionally struck lucky, they’ve also been guilty of a few mishaps in the January market in the past. Here are some of their most their most notable, and more forgettable, post-Christmas arrivals.

January finds

Andy Cole Bought from Newcastle United in a deal worth £7 million in 1995, Cole scored 93 goals for United in 195 appearances, including five in one match in a 9-0 win over Ipswich Town. His potent strike partnership with Dwight Yorke propelled United to a historic treble during the 1998/99 treble season. He is second in the list of all time Premier League goalscorers with 189 goals.

Nemanja Vidic United signed football’s fierce Serbian for £7.2 million from Spartak Moscow in 2006. Alongside Rio Ferdinand, he went on to form one of the finest centre back partnerships in the history of both Manchester United and the Premier League. Vidic, who the club’s captain in recent seasons, was instrumental in the five league titles and one Champions League triumph his side have won during his time in a red shirt.

Patrice Evra Evra experienced a torrid start to his Manchester United career, being unceremoniously dragged off on at half time of his debut against Manchester City having signed from Monaco for just days earlier. But his form quickly improved, soon forcing former Player of the Year Gabriel Heinze out of the club and establishing his reputation as one of United’s finest ever left backs. His outspoken words of the pitch and dynamic attacking play on it have made him a firm fan’s favourite.

January flops

Diego Forlan Things never quite worked out for Forlan, United’s £6.9 million acquisition from Argentinean side Independiente. He did experience some memorable moments in a red shirt, most notably his double away to Liverpool in the 2002/03 season, but ultimately was only ever able to notch ten goals in 63 appearances for the Old Trafford side. He left for Villarreal in 2004 and went on to play for Athletico Madrid and Inter, becoming one of world football’s most feared strikers in the process. One of United’s great lost hopes.

newswide11835781470Dong Fangzhou Chinese striker Dong signed for United for a fee of £500,000, potentially rising to £3.5 million depending on appearances. Whilst waiting for a work permit, Dong enjoyed several reasonably fruitful seasons on loan at Royal Antwerp in Belgium. Despite being finally granted a permit three years after his initial joining date, Dong failed to kick on as much as hoped, and made just a handful of appearances for the Red Devils before his contract was terminated in 2008.

Wilfried Zaha Sir Alex Ferguson bought the Crystal Palace winger for £15 million in January last year, but immediately loaned him back to his former club for the rest of the season. Since returning to Old Trafford, Zaha has made just two appearances under new manager David Moyes. A raw attacking talent with pace to burn, his days at the club could be numbered.




  1. Ben

    January 7, 2014 at 8:37 pm

    The problem is that the quality is not in the side. However uncertain the prospect of bringing in new players, taking that risk has to by default be better than sticking with a substandard side.

    Also, I don’t buy the talk about the talent not being out there to buy. It is there, and clubs will sell. Maybe it will cost a pretty price. If you don’t want to pay a pretty price, do not let your club decline to such a state that you MUST buy, and you won’t be forced into extremely expensive buys. As it is right now, Manchester United must accept that for them, there are no bargains. You are a drowning man. Pay double. Get your life right. Shut the fuck up about there not being value in the market. There is no value for YOU, because YOU have failed to maintain a quality squad. It is not the responsibility of smaller clubs to act as benevolent football farms for negligent United ownership. Pay up so we can get back to watching quality football please.

    Also, I am hyper suspicious of the fact that United ALWAYS get linked to huge names. No. Just no. It’s piss poor scouting at best. Other teams, good teams, do not function this way. Take Negredo as an example. I do not hear how every team in the world wants him for months. He does not come from a world class club. Those two qualities are pretty important. They tell me that a club has watched this guy, seen he is very good, and dedicated time to picking him for qualities he possesses, that that team needs. There are a lot of teams around the top tier of football, if just below that tier that competes for champions league titles. Inside that tier, that just beneath world class level, there have to be dozens of creative midfielders, defensive midfielders, wide men, whatever it happens to be that you need, there are dozens of players filling those roles. Not to tell a scout his job, but find the one that seems most consistent, with the highest upside, that is the least entangled by sleazy agents, hangers on, or general attitude issues, and buy him for whatever the club asks. Then repeat that 4-5 times until United have a midfield again, decent wide players and a bit more cover in back.

    Also…. gotta stop the forever trials. If a player has 3 years, and can’t break the first team, come on. It’s not disloyal to that player, or unfair, or anything else. That player needs opportunities just the same as we need a player that isn’t him. Plain and simple. It’s a squad bloated with players that haven’t made it, and won’t make it, and they block spots that youth players could move into, so that there is no space for players to come into the squad because the team is overflowing with ‘potential’, a nice way of saying players that are doing absolutely nothing.

    • ForeverRed

      January 8, 2014 at 2:50 am

      @Ben: Completely agree with you on the scouting Ben. When was the last time we came up with an unknown gem that had an immediate impact on the 1st XI??? If Ronaldo, Fabregas & Bale are top of our wish list – who the heck needs scouts? Perhaps the manager’s brother could do the job?

      The way certain facets of the club are being run is embarrassing. Fergie could get away with it while he was in charge, because of his record of sustained success on the field. But considering he’s been lecturing Harvard Business School on his management skills, the whole succession planning at the club from manager, to chief exec to transfer strategy has been nothing short of amateur hour. Certainly not what you’d expect from an institution of the size and history of Utd.

  2. gator

    January 7, 2014 at 9:48 pm

    cleverly was a bystander and so was welly second half. valincia was worthless. carrick inst at his best yet. giggs was great… for 40+

    what else? their goal was shit ofside and they fouled giggs into his own net… should have never happened the free kick came off a goal kick that was a corner off of oshey…

    time to spend

    the right hand side was attacked heavily in the opening 30 min. if valincia cant help defend then why is he selected…

    we need reinforcements before adnan gets hurt. he is our most creative player and is being kicked as such.

    • Opti

      January 7, 2014 at 10:00 pm

      @gator: Cleverley was great. High passing rate, he runs fast, has two legs, plays for England national team, who will win the World Cup in Brazil.

      The real problem is Adnan Januzaj. He thinks he is Ronaldo just because he is as exciting and good as the portugeezer was at 18. Let’s put Adnan on bench so that he can play cards with our other problematic winger Zaha. Disgusting attitude by these youngsters thinking they are good. Learn from Cleverley kids.

      Happy to see Giggs extend another record for the history books.

      Overall a pretty amazing game at Stadium of Light… can’t wait for next weekend and Swansea, then Chelsea. We’re getting close to title material and will probably win the Champions League. Yes, I know, I put a 20 on it, to show those bookies that they don’t know football. I also sold my United shares as the club is unlikely to repeat the success of the last 6 months ever again.

      United for the win!!!!

  3. Moscow

    January 7, 2014 at 9:50 pm

    Rock bottom Sunderland outplay our midfield of Giggs and Cleverley – quelle surprise!

    Holy pig fuck, Cleverley actually plays for England. Let that sink in, then get drunk.

    Swansea next, perfect opportunity to extend this emphatic run!

    • Redrich

      January 8, 2014 at 3:09 am

      @Moscow: Not there yet because some still believe we have a chance………..

      …….no fucking chance. This is as shit as I’ve seen in thirty years.

      Cleverly is a monstrous miscalculation, he is a failure at all levels and THE reason our midfield needs a WC replacement. Can he just go away and play table tennis for his need to play a sports.

  4. gator

    January 7, 2014 at 9:53 pm

    so sick of being fouled off the pitch and seeing players subbed off because of injury.

    Its obvious that the refs are not going to protect united this term so i say serving a match ban is better than being injured!!!! time to start being a bully team. we are loosing anyway lets take out other teams stars as they seem to be doing to us!

    I cant watch our players lying on the ground with their arms up at the ref only for him to turn his head or worse show us a yellow for sim…

    Time to start collecting red cards for the rest of the year. by god you will fear playing united one way or another!!! 👿

    heres hoping evans hasnt picked up a serious knock…

  5. tonymontanna4united

    January 7, 2014 at 10:15 pm

    Absolutely Fucking woeful.
    The goal aside, and 2/3 Januzaj chances he had to pretty much create all by himself, we did fuck all in 90 minutes.
    This to the bottom side in the PL, currently on 14 fucking points. Beggars belief.
    And what’s worse, as with the spurs and swansea games too, was they were very comfortable, and got the win without ever looking all that bloody great.
    What does that say about us?
    That this team is worse than Sunderland now? That it’s worse than Swansea, Spurs, Everton oh and Newcastle too?
    I’m sure Moyes will have us believe so with his calls for more time for him to get things right.
    I sometimes wonder if it suits him to buy no one during the transfer windows, so he can keep calling for more and more time, as it’s still not his squad.
    I mean he certainly doesn’t look fucking bothered by this run.
    I guess the fact that he knows he’s got 6 years gives you that.
    If he got wind that pressure was mounting, maybe he’d pull his finger out and do something more productive, like giving other players besides Valencia and Cleverley games every sodding week.
    But it’s beyond that now. Seriously David, just do the honourable thing and resign.
    This isn’t about trophies, and it isn’t about fans being unpatient.
    It’s about you being the wrong fit for the club. You were in May and you still are now, and other than blind faith from Fergie because time and patience worked for him in 1986, you’ve shown nothing to warrant being show time and patience from the fans.
    Fergie can go with you if he’s now wanting to do his Vincent Tan impression of thinking he’s bigger than the club, and can pick and choose who he wants to run it.
    Go off to Aberdeen and ruin them if that’s what you want, and Moyes can go with you.

  6. Ben

    January 8, 2014 at 2:14 am

    I am really mystified by this abominable season. I was absolutely convinced, winning the title with 11 points to spare, that the worst, the absolute worst we could do was finish 4th, no cups. Which seemed a fairly pessimistic assessment at the time. And now…. it feels pretty certain we’re going to finish mid-table, with nothing. I read the above post of mine, about the talent not being there…. and it’s just amazing. These are champions. All these players, are winners. And…… there are no words for what is happening. Shitastrophe?

    I think Moyes gets minimum another season, because panic is never the correct response, although perhaps time to Pjanic if I can slide a pun in there. But, surely we now are officially lining up who comes next when we do decide to call time on what appears to be a miserably failed experiment. Again, not saying that time is now, or should be now, because if this catastrophe should tell us anything, it should be that we absolutely must get the right guy next time. So, I figure us for about a season and a half of looking around for the right guy, trying not to tear our hair out.

    Also, can we officially begin our Solskjær watch? If Moyes has 1 1/2 seasons to turn United into a team that plays competitively, I think Solskjær officially has that long to win a trophy, any trophy at all. He comes from Norway with 3 trophies, has coached United reserves, on top of being a team legend, if he can prove that he can win trophies I think he would move very quickly to the top of United’s next coach list. I know I’ll be watching Cardiff games. Maybe Klopp would be perfect, but there would be a big sentimental case for Solskjær, and not entirely sentiment at that.

    • Redrich

      January 8, 2014 at 3:11 am

      @Ben: Honestly mate, you had never thought this one through, did you??

      • Ben

        January 8, 2014 at 3:56 am

        I hadn’t honestly thought I had underestimated Sir Alex. I always felt like I was one of those when people were criticizing Sir Alex to think, he’ll come good. He will always pull the right strings. And for the most part he did. So that when it came time for him to retire, I felt like I really did appreciate how much he did for the club.

        Now with Moysie, it dawns on me that none of us appreciated even fractionally the genius of Sir Alex. How could you? How could you really grasp that the difference between mid-table and champions existed in one man? Be fair, that is not how team sports are supposed to work. Great coaches make good teams great. But what do you say about a coach that makes an average team premier league champions?

        I did think it out, I just fell victim to the apparent ease with which Fergie routinely propelled this team to titles.

        Now we need to start looking for the same type of maniacally focused manager we lost. Klopp definitely fits the bill, and even has a pretty similar career trajectory as Sir Alex had with Aberdeen. But I think Solskjær really does deserve a look, especially if he grabs some silverware with cardiff.

        • Redrich

          January 8, 2014 at 4:20 am

          @Ben: Klopp, Mourhino and the second coming of Matt Busby and Sir Alf Ramsey would not save this squad of players.
          They are as shit as I’ve seen in many a year!!

          There is no quick fix (like replacing the manager) for this club. We now need to build a team based on quality and NOT thrift. I hope that Moyes has the balls to stand up to the moneymen and demand players that could be worthy of the red shirt. Hernandez, Welbeck, Clerverly, Smalling, Evans – are you fucking kidding me??

  7. Ben

    January 8, 2014 at 5:44 am

    At this point I wouldn’t even mind a straight up clear out. Cut maybe a dozen players, unload a bunch, and bring up every youth player remotely close to starting. Buy at least 4 high quality players now. I don’t think that’s even a panic move… For whatever reason (Moyes) these players aren’t playing. And I have heard some say the players are giving it all, I don’t see it at all. I see listless, futile displays one after another. How about this Moyes, you go into that locker room and you tell them, ‘sometimes great teams lose, but they always fucking get up there, and give everything. I’ll stand behind every single person on this team without fail, if every time you step on that field, every pass you make, every minute you’re on that pitch, you ever everything you have to give, and if you can’t do that, you don’t belong here.’ And mean it. I don’t see it. Loses happen. Loses are not the end of the world, they really aren’t that big a deal, IF, the team fights with everything they have. But this team doesn’t. They are an embarassment. Yes, I support the club, but I do not support players that won’t play with heart. It’s shocking. I never thought I would see a United composed wholly of passionless placeholders. A purge isn’t a panic, it’s the remedy. If the youth aren’t hungry to make their break, no one will be. And you know what Moyes, you might recall that as a page from Fergie’s book. This side is not playing good enough. Purge them, and play with youth. Play with passion. Play with desire. I wouldn’t even mind if you lost some more games, if we could at least see a team that gave a shit about winning.

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