Football transfers have long gone a little bit mental but this summer the Premier League has taken borderline madness into realms of just sheer hyperbolic ridiculousness. It’s the summer of the £30 million player with Manchester United more than happy to add many a name to the once revered ‘£30m plus club’.
It was always going to be interesting to see José Mourinho’s first transfer window. A man who’s success is so heavily built on short termism that youth falls by the wayside (at least in this writers opinion anyway) and the ability to build a dynasty as realistic as finishing a 4th season, Mourinho embodies the complete diametric opposite to the Fergie’s years. Mourinho is a trophy winning wrecking ball; Fergie on the other hand became some kind majestic perennial winner. So what does this summer say about Manchester United under José Mourinho?
Well rather unsurprisingly, nothing new. Mourinho has come in; been cantankerous with the press (the 46 name list of successful graduates a case in point) and brought a whole host of big names that might scupper the progress of a couple of Manchester United’s ‘rough diamonds’.
What is also been made abundantly clear at when you look at the players Mourinho is willing to let go is that Manchester United have just burnt through money under Louis Van Gaal. In recent weeks Daley Blind, Marcos Rojo, Morgan Schneiderlin and Bastian Schweinsteiger have all been rumoured for the exit door. Throw into the mix Memphis Depay erratic form of last season and it’s a hardly a glowing endorsement for Ed Woodward and co on the transfer front, but then again this might be exactly why United have decided to just sign players who are under the spell of super-agent Mino Raiola this summer.
To recruit Zlatan Ibrahimović for a one year cameo in the Premier League off the back of arguably one of his best seasons made some sense. One of Raiola’s diamonds in his portfolio, Ibrahimović will be expecting to start week in, week out in the Premier League. The progress of Marcus Rashford shouldn’t be worse off for watching Zlatan do Zlatany things in training but for Anthony Martial, still incredibly young admittedly, could have perhaps done with some game time in a central position. He has the pace and physicality to succeed and under LVG he appeared wasted stuck out by the touchline.
If Zlatan’s wages £220,000 a week is one thing, Manchester United have also splashed out a supposed £30m for Henrikh Mkhitaryan and a further £30m on Eric Bailly from Borussia Dortmund and Villarreal respectively. Mourinho’s signing of Mkhitaryan (another Raiola player) seems to make a lot of a sense. A creative player that will fit well within his tactical framework and has a Mourinho like work-ethic on the field. £30m for Eric Bailly seems a sensationally steep price to pay for someone untested at the very highest level however talented but this is the problem now endemic for the Premier League. People know how rich clubs are, so just chuck money on top of money and clubs pay the prices asked of them.
Then we come on to the rumoured signings. Romelu Lukaku (Raiola), Blaise Matuidi (Raiola) and the effervescent Paul Pogba (who Raiola is supposedly entitled to 30% of his transfer free as his agent). It’s like Manchester United is fast becoming Raiola’s own personal cash cow and flies once more in the face of Manchester United’s much admired ‘promote from within’ philosophy.
With such names, where youth players fit into José Mourinho’s United is anyone’s guess. Mourinho has always wanted a project, always wanted the Manchester United job but thus far, you would probably argue it’s still the same Mourinho. Yes, he will bring you success, something Manchester United fans, so used too over the last 20 years crave once more but at what cost?
One thing I have always admired about Manchester United was the style they won. Fergie for all his flaws had a knack of being able to rebuild and go again with a new crop of bright young things being blooded in along the way. He played football with a pace and a directness not many teams have been able to emulate and you can’t help but feel that for success Manchester United have sacrificed something that made their club a little different from others all for Mourinho’s short termism. It might win you a trophy or two but in three years’ time we will be talking about someone else’s first transfer window.
Rich, The Sweeper Football Blog