Tuesday, September 3, 2013

The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight

o It's ironic, isn't it?  A summer-long transfer saga that began simmering over Wayne Rooney's disheveled mindframe has boiled over after a frutratingly inept transfer window closed yesterday, leaving many Manchester United fans in the very same state that their number 10 found himself: angry and confused.
o When was the last time you heard Manchester United referred to as a "laughing stock?"  We'll bet most fans can't recall that far back -- before yesterday's events reared their ugly head.  The reputation for shrewd business dealings and disciplined, tactical efforts in the transfer window lies in tatters now as the United front office managed to turn the present champions of England into the Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight in a little over two months time.  We won't go so far as to apportion direct blame -- we'll leave that to others to decide, as things in our experience are never quite as they appear -- but we will say that Messrs. Woodward and Moyes had to expect that their first transfer window would be an event by which their behavior and results would be judged.

o In this blog we will more closely examine the pathetic situation which occurred over the past several weeks, a situation that reached its apogee in a fiasco-laden effort to secure a fax from Real Madrid as the clock ticked menacingly toward 11pm BST -- a fax that ultimately failed to arrive at its destination. [The cheap and easy thing here would be to make an analogy to Ed Woodward's failure to arrive at his destination after the United Chief Executive left the pre-season tour of Australia on "urgent transfer business" BACK IN JULY, but we wouldn't be so cruel and callous as to do that.]
o First off, a quick question for all of you out there, especially those of you who operate in what is commonly known as a "business" (a term the United front office may want to investigate): Does anyone still use a fax machine?  Has the front office at United heard of PDFs?  Adobe is a rather large software company, one with a global reach, and most professionals use its Portable Document Format to scan and send documents and signature pages by e-mail these days.  Here's a tip for the front office: you may want to look into this newfangled technology. It's a bit complicated, but we think you might ultimately get the hang of it.

o Second question: who wanted Fabio Coentrao in the first place?  And on a one-year loan from Real Madrid, no less....  Are we reduced to borrowing their players now?  Is left back -- which three players on the current squad already play -- a position so desperately in need of improvement that we spent the last hours of the transfer window praying that the Spaniards would fax us some paperwork to complete the deal?  We don't think so....  Instead, this one smacks of an "impulse buy," as if Ronaldo's countryman was on sale near the checkout counter as the store was closing, and the front office decided it was better him than nothing.  
o Call us prescient, but we declared the Herrera deal DOA as soon as the news broke on Sunday -- but the United office failed to come to the same very obvious conclsuion.  The deal didn't fail  becuse United couldn't have used the player.  Lord knows, after Sunday's rudderless display  a true central midfielder would have come in handy.  And we're not buying the fact that the front office either : a) didn't understand the Spaniard's release clause; or b) were unwilling to meet the price demanded by the Basque club (as the story now goes). 

o Instead, we think those were just convenient excuses for the real issue: Spanish (and maybe even more particularly, Basque) taxes.  Ask anyone who has ever negotiated a business deal for a living: taxes are not something that you can figure out in an hour or two, let alone taxes involving another country.  The Herrera deal smells as if  the player was targeted much too late, leaving the deal's negotiators with nowhere near enough time to meander their way through the vagaries of the Spanish tax code -- a code which could have raised the purchase price for the player by several million dollars, apparently.  This deal was doomed to failure from the start by the late date on which the United team decided to pursue the young Spaniard -- it died stillborn.
o And it's not as if the date on which the transfer window closed was a surprise, is it?  One of the least effective excuses in business is saying "We didn't have enough time" -- especially when the opening and closing dates were well known in advance to everyone.  Do any fans seriously believe that Spurs, Chelsea and Real Madrid didn't have to jump through international tax hoops to get their respective deals done this summer?
o And where do we even begin to describe the situation involving Marouane Fellaini....?  Although we do think the Belgian will improve the club domestically -- we're not convinced he will help catch the Barcelonas, the Bayern Munichs and Real Madrids of the world, though -- how did the Manchester United front office conspire to pay £4 million more for his signature than they could have paid just a month ago?  Once again, our team looks about as talented as the group that would screw up a three car funeral.   
o There's only one word to describe what happened here: desperation.  Realizing they would be hung in effigy by the fans if they failed to produce at least one new signing, the front office panicked and was held over a barrel by Everton Chairman Bill Kenright.  The reuslt: we have Fellaini, but Kenright kept Leighton Baines and managed to pocket a little extra change along the way.  Shrewd piece of business, Mr. Bill.

We could go on but we won't -- we'll leave that to others.  Instead, just call us angry and confused.  It's far easier.

This is farlieonfootie for September 3.

No comments:

Post a Comment