Why keeping De Gea could shape United’s future

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Football Manchester United v ArsenalEd Woodward is a divisive figure among Manchester United fans. Formerly a man who seemed completely out of his depth when it came to getting transfer deals done, he went through a resurrection of sorts over the last 2 summers. But it is his handling of the non-sale of David de Gea that may prove to be his greatest contribution to the club.

The Woodward era has not been smooth sailing by any means, resembling a rollercoaster more often than not. There were the ups of signing world class superstars Angel di Maria and Bastian Schweinsteiger, the clearing of deadwood and then, there were the considerable downs of unnecessarily paying an extra £4 million for Marouane Fellaini or missing out on Pedro.

Woodward first became The Man of a Thousand Memes through a showing of incompetence rarely seen during the Ferguson era. Who could forget the disastrous summer of 2013? The Ander Herrera debacle, the Fellaini debacle, the Thiago Alcantara deb… you get the picture.

Basically an entire summer spent reminding fans that we were in for a bumpy ride in the post-Fergie era.

However, this summer was different, the pre-window acquisition of Memphis Depay, one of Europe’s most exciting young talents, and the quick signing of Morgan Schneiderlin and Schweinsteiger, fixing a long-standing central midfield problem, allowed United fans to cautiously consider a change of opinion.

He seemed to have learned from his mistakes, the decisiveness and speed of his predecessor David Gill’s dealings looked to be repeated. Throw in Matteo Darmian for around £12m, at a bargain price, and Woody was on the cusp of completing an improbable turnaround in the eyes of the fans.

But before we fully embrace the man labelled “The Wolf of Old Trafford”, it should be remembered that this is someone pivotal in the Glazers’ acquisition of the club. The former investment banker advised on the purchase that loaded immense amount of debt on the club. His effect on the club has been significant raises in revenue but at the cost of, among other things, increased ticket prices.

The selling of naming rights for the club’s training ground and numerous obscure sponsorship deals further emphasise that Woodward sees United as a business first, football club second.

Let’s not forget that United now have a “official global noodle partner” because of Woodward. It puts more pennies in the Old Trafford coffers but it also adds to the soulless, corporate feel surrounding the club.

Because of his past actions it seems certain that Woodward will always attract suspicion.

However the way in which he has stood up to Real Madrid over the David De Gea situation is admirable, and the benefits of making life extremely hard for Florentino Perez may be seen for years to come. Woodward’s refusal to bow to Madrid was the right course of action even if it ends up costing the club £29m for one season of de Gea’s service. Taking a hit with regards to money now may mean United holding on to a superstar in the future.

Madrid is a club that get what they want. The history and financial attraction is something that United can match but for many European and Latin American players Madrid represents a pull that even United cannot equal.

Maybe it’s the weather, the quality of life or the opportunity to satisfy nagging girlfriends but there is level of trepidation that enters every United fan’s stomach when they hear a player being linked with Real.

Imagine this scenario. In the not too distant future, Memphis or new signing Anthony Martial have fulfilled their considerable potential and are considered among the best players in the world. Then, following a poor season, the Madrid president decides he needs a new Galactico to spark a return to glory and begins to look longingly at Old Trafford.

Perez, or whoever succeeds him, would undoubtedly think back to the summer of 2015 when they were made to look like fools for leaving the de Gea transfer to the last minute and haggling over a few million. By standing up to the club which Ferguson once said he wouldn’t sell a virus, he has sent the message that United are not a club to be pushed around.

The situation can be seen at Tottenham; Daniel Levy is notorious for driving a hard bargain and either scaring off potential buyers or getting huge fees for his players. Levy forced Real to cough up a world record fee for Gareth Bale and you can be sure they will think twice about going in for a Spurs player in the near future.

Now Woodward has sent that message to the rest of the football superpowers; if you want a United player be prepared for a struggle.

Woodward is never going to be carried down Matt Busby Way, and it will be difficult to ever have total confidence in him no matter how many signings United make, but his refusal to be bullied by Real Madrid may mean holding on to our own Galacticos in the future and earn him some respect among fans.

Liam Maguire

 

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13 Comments

  1. Yours is the kind of opinion piece that gives me hope that among the stupid websites trying to sell themselves as “news” sites, there are still those that show themselves to be worthy of visiting.

  2. I actually agree with your summation. It is good to see MUFC willing to say no to Real Madrid – and then have the strength of character to see this through. That needs applauding. Moreover, I think you are right in saying that the knock on effect will be positive for MUFC.

    But

    (You knew there was a “but” right ;o) )

    This has been a HUGE case of serendipity. Woodward should have had David De Gea signed up to a contract at least a year ago. Failing that, then they should have had a QUALITY goalie brought in very early on in the transfer window (Illoris for example). Instead we have had this transfer farce, sold our second goalie, wound up the other goalie in the club and brought in a goalie who couldn’t save a word document!!

    And I haven’t even mentioned Pedro (If I had emojis, they would be the red angry faces now!!!) or that skilfully mastered Martial transfer that saw Woodward manage to arrange a deal that could eventually cost nearly £60m!!!

    Wow!

    I applaud you Woodward!

    you have managed to make MUFC actually EARN the name that our haters have labelled us with for years:
    “MANURE”

    • @BisiLIFE: Btw If Martial does eventually cost 60m one of the stipulated ad-on requirements is that he will have won the Ballon D’Or ! Cheap at the price if that’s the case !

    • Martial would end up costing 58mm if he wins European Player of the Year; in other words, if he turns out to be the next Ronaldo or Messi, so don’t be so quick with the “60 million price tag”.
      Who, knows? He may end up being the next David Bellion instead, but has it occurred to anyone that the manager decides who comes and who goes, and Woodward’s job is to get it done? Were Anderson, Bebe, et al David Gill’s fault? Or was Cantona his brilliant idea? It was Fergie then, it was Moyes who bought Fellaini, and it was VG who bought Martial (and not Pedro, or whoever) and bought and sold Di Maria

  3. “But it is his handling of the non-sale of David de Gea that may prove to be his greatest contribution to the club”

    This statement is actually incorrect…
    According to Manchester United’s own press release, the ONLY offer for David came in on Monday…and they ACCEPTED!

  4. Yeah I really don’t see how we “showed” Real Madrid. At the start of the summer we were insisting on a world record fee for a keeper i.e. £35M or so. Then Ramos had to be part of the deal for us to negotiate. Then at the last minute we give in and accept a cash plus player deal which probably only involved £10M of actual cash. And the only reason it didnt go through is because Real got cold feet.

    The usual Real Madrid tactic of unsettling a player until the selling club is forced to back down worked a treat as usual. We’d have done far better to have been realistic from the beginning sold him for £20M at the start of the summer and had time to line up a viable replacement.

    A real hard line approach would have been to say we don’t sell our best players while still under contract and made it clear to De Gea and Real Madrid that there was no possibility in hell a deal could be done at any price and told the player to knuckle down for one more season.

    The only good thing is that with the Euros coming up De Gea is unlikely to sulk and sit on the bench. He’ll get his act together and do a professional job which is still a helluva lot better than Romero’s level and that will make a top four finish that little bit more likely.

  5. This has to be the worst article I’ve read on this site –and others. Signing a sponsorship deal makes United a “soulless” corporation? No, it brings the revenue that allows a big club stay big, and confirms its worldwide appeal. What’s more “soulful”? Russian mafia rubbles or Abu Dhabi’s oil dollars?
    Comparing United to Spurs? Seriously?
    Sending a message that clubs would have to struggle to buy a United player? I HOPE SO,but so far we’ve done exactly the opposite; we’re giving players away for almost free. Has i occurred to you that Real might have cocked up the transfer?

    • @bestie: true. I believed they cocked it up because they did not REALLY want him. Since qhen do Real hustle over a £5m price difference for a galactico?

      Lesson to the author… a Bentley is expensive because it is desireable. It is deaireable because it is expensive. Obtaining a galactico for cheap makes it no longer a galactico.

  6. I think Ed Woodward still has lots to learn in the transfer market. This window proved that. We are still overpaying on transfers-in and “under-selling”on transfer-out. Nothing has changed. Only difference now was that we got our (some of our) targets sooner than usual.

  7. It’s not beyond the realm of possibility that Ed Wood completely screwed up the DDE affair – after all he has a history of screwing things up on the transfer front. Of course he could have been a sly little fox and purposely mucked it all up in a desperate attempt to keep the only decent keeper on the books. However, if DDE decides to walk at the end of the season, he could have just lost the club a cool 29m – which, in turn, puts his reputation as a Glazer money spinner somewhat in jeopardy.

  8. I’m really not sure how you can compare Woodward to Levy. Levy is consistently hard nosed in transfer business while Woodward is inconsistent. Do you honestly think Levy would have let Di Maria go after 12 months at a 15M loss or paid 36M+ for a teenager? And, let’s be absolutely honest here, If there hadn’t been some monumental mess up De Gea would now be a Real Madrid player. You are right about Woodward being only interested in the business, not the football, a job which he is good at. Wouldn’t it therefore make sense to let Woodward focus on the business side and bring in a Director of football to concentrate on transfers?
    If there is a plus in the De Gea affair it’s that we haven’t been landed with Navas. From what I’ve seen of him I don’t rate him any higher than Romero. So hopefully next season we might go for a proper replacement like Lloris.

  9. If we had said no, I would have agreed. But we didn’t say no. We accepted. And then someone (Real or Us) bungled the transfer. I don’t quite see how it can reflect well on anyone involved, least of all Woodward, especially after we’ve just paid close to 60M on a 19 year old kid who has all of one season under his belt.

  10. Perez is blaming Woodward citing the precedents of Coentrao and Herrera deals we also screwed up.

    Then you have the Monaco owner talking about how bids started at 30M euros and escalated rapidly to 80M euros presumably because Monaco stuck to their guns and Woodward couldn’t bear leaving empty handed after the Pedro debacle.

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