Transfer Strategy - Thoughts

mitchmouse

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People whinging about not having signed all the best players by X date don't think in terms of strategy. They just react emotionally, expressing their fears through criticism about things they don't comprehend, and revealing their basic need for a comforting hit of dopamine. In fact that's how most people react to most things, from politics to business to Saturday night entertainment to relationships to careers to purchases to investments. People are fecking stupid.
meanwhile, others close their eyes and sing "la la la" to distract them from reality while believing it will all work out magically in the end. which are the "fecking' stupid ones?
 

mitchmouse

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main target(s) not achieved. no recognised centre forward. Murtough and Arnold sticking to the Woodward play book. I think the "strategy" is there for all too see (if you want to open your eyes, remove the red-tinted glasses) and look
 

Trequarista10

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meanwhile, others close their eyes and sing "la la la" to distract them from reality while believing it will all work out magically in the end. which are the "fecking' stupid ones?
Thanks for demonstrating an example of someone using emotion rather than logic. You've also demonstrated a perfect example of a strawman, congratulations!
 

mitchmouse

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Thanks for demonstrating an example of someone using emotion rather than logic. You've also demonstrated a perfect example of a strawman, congratulations!
and you presented nothing to change my mind. no evidence, no examples, nothing. just a collection of words that mean nothing. show me how your logic equals we are going to be fine
 

Trequarista10

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and you presented nothing to change my mind. no evidence, no examples, nothing. just a collection of words that mean nothing. show me how your logic equals we are going to be fine
Where have I said we're going to be fine?

Relax pal, you're getting yourself all worked up.
 

Borys

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There is either no strategy, or we're changing it on the way.
In February we knew must-have is to get:
  1. Midfielder
  2. Striker/RW
Nice to have would be to get:
  1. Another midfielder, since it was more than likely Pogba will leave
  2. Another forward, since Martial is injury prone, and seemed like was on his way out anyway
  3. RB since our options there are poor
The biggest mystery for me is how the hell did we end up with another CB and LB, and that is even without ETH assessing properly our options in two position in which we're quite well stocked.

Midfield is a bit complicated, certainly looks like we've put all our eggs into one basket, what IMO is a mistake because:
If there is only one player in the world who can fulfill the role we require, and we cannot get him, (not it appears even get him to say he might like to come)... then surely we have to change the role?
Exactly my worry. I am skeptical about de Jong being our midfield savior, I do think he requires some conditions which we can't provide right now but since ETH is clearly pushing for him, so be it. But this deal always seemed far off.
Regardless if fdj would join, our midfield is in such state we could easily get another midfielder who would help us get top 4, even if we upgrade on him next summer one of McTominay or van de Beek can simply make space in the squad.

Not getting an attacker for Greenwood/Cavani is criminal, there is no other way around it. We could easily get two attackers by now, since we need them anyway.

Other aspect probably is finances, if we're in a stalemate with de Jong and have 80m freezed, we might be holding other big transfers as we obviously work on a limited budget.
But if that's the case, why did we spend 65m on more defenders before addressing main pain points?

EDIT:
I just realized our highest sales last 3 seasons:
1. Dan James 30m
2. Smalling 15m
3. Pereira 10m
I don't know how to comment on that. What a mess.
 
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Josep Dowling

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The transfer strategy simply hasn’t changed. They had 6/7 months to prepare this summer after the sacking of Ole and they wasted that entire time.

Over reliance on the manager’s choices of players is what got us into this mess in the first place. It’s happened again this season. Say for example ten Hag is a disaster will Martinez fit into the next manager’s thoughts? I highly doubt it given the players size for a CB.

This is why we need an experienced DOF who considered longevity, not just shortermism like a manager does. They only consider now.

I don’t think out signings have strengthened us at all. There is on balance to our team once again, probably the worse it’s been since LVG striped the club down to its bare bones. We barely have a CF going into the first game of the season. No RW but 7 CBs. Why did we target a new £60m CB when we knew the Ronaldo situation could have left us with Martial? Transfer strategy is surely about prioritising the main weaknesses in the squad? We simply haven’t done that this summer.
 

CM10

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It feels to me that any transfer strategy we might've had (if we did have one at all) was torn up as soon as ten Hag arrived at the club. Progress on signings has been slow all summer, the players who we have signed are fine but the reality is we need at least 3 or 4 more in before the end of the transfer window. That doesn't look likely as things stand.

I think you can excuse the club for the de Jong pursuit, that one is clearly at the request of the manager. The fact we haven't signed even one forward is really poor though, be that a right winger or a striker. Every man and his dog knew there were going to be murmurs around Ronaldo's future before the summer windown began, and even if there weren't, he's 37.

One injury to Martial is all it took to be scrambling around for creative solutions and false 9 options for the opening day of the season against Brighton. Martial himself has been pretty flaky in the last couple of years so expecting a new manager to make do with a squad largely filled with players who have disappointed before simply isn't good enough.
 

fergiewherearethou

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The transfer strategy simply hasn’t changed. They had 6/7 months to prepare this summer after the sacking of Ole and they wasted that entire time.

Over reliance on the manager’s choices of players is what got us into this mess in the first place. It’s happened again this season. Say for example ten Hag is a disaster will Martinez fit into the next manager’s thoughts? I highly doubt it given the players size for a CB.

This is why we need an experienced DOF who considered longevity, not just shortermism like a manager does. They only consider now.

I don’t think out signings have strengthened us at all. There is on balance to our team once again, probably the worse it’s been since LVG striped the club down to its bare bones. We barely have a CF going into the first game of the season. No RW but 7 CBs. Why did we target a new £60m CB when we knew the Ronaldo situation could have left us with Martial? Transfer strategy is surely about prioritising the main weaknesses in the squad? We simply haven’t done that this summer.
Well theoretically Sancho is our RW and if Ronaldo really leaves, we have Martial as our ST, Rashford as our LW and Elanga as our back-up RW (God forbid). So all-in-all we have extremely limited options upfront. If one goes on a long term injury we are screwed. If 2 are out of form completely and 1 is injured we have relegation material options.
The simple fact we are relying on Martial is very worrying.
We can also strike lucky and everyone will become world class players like we all dreamed off and they will never get injured or tired(.....)

We did not have 6-7 months to prepare for the next season. ETH was bound for Utd 1 month or so before the end of the last season, our board did not have a clue what to do with Rangnick, I still don't have a clue on what grounds did we choose him as our interim manager or why was he proposed for a consultancy role.

Basically we have bought 3 subs all summer, that's the reality. We needed at least 2-3 starters, 2 in midfield, one ST and we have got none.
 

downunder red

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I just don't understand all this moaning. We beat the mighty Brentford for a free agent, stole Malacia for a whopping 13m and bought a 5 foot 9 center back for over 50m.
Not bad for one of the biggest so called clubs in the world.
Now we are chasing some one who scored a goal against Liverpool.
 
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Bestietom

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Absolutely ridiculous that a club as big as Manchester United doesn't have a CF for their first game of the season.
Ronaldo not fit enough .
Martial Injured.

If you really look at it, none of them are CFs and we are all shouting about this for 3 seasons now. Same with a DM. These are the 2 positions we should go all out to fill before deadline day, or else we can forget about a top 4 finish this season.These positions should have been filled before now. 1999 we had 4 CF at our club, now we don't have 1. The manager and coaches should have added a youngster who plays there to the squad who went on tour, especially when Ronaldo pulled out.
 

largelyworried

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What's hard to judge here is whether there are real changes taking place behind the scenes or not. People have criticised the club for just going with the managers picks instead of having their own strategy. However strategy, by definition, is something that rolls out over a longer period of time. You can't judge it 2 months into a new managers time. For our scouting, data analytics and first team coaches to all align takes time. It takes time for them all work so well with each other that they're on the same page about what types of players are needed and how they mesh into a single overarching philosophy.

United have been guilty in the past of buying players who, individually, have done well at their clubs, but with little thought about how they will all come together. This has left us overstocked in some positions while threadbare in others (centre backs), with players who don't fit the football we want to play (Maguire & AWB leap out here) or players we just don't know what to do with (VDB).

Changing a team to align around a shared vision is actually damn hard. I run an SME and its hard even in my small organisation to embed a shared vision into tangible work practices, I can only imagine how hard it is in an organisation the size of United - and with so many big personalities within it.

If you're scouting players, its easy to agree on vapid generalities like "we want players with passion", as though anyone would want players without it. But getting everyone in the chain to agree to "tackling for a midfielder is of secondary importance to passing" or "we are prepared to lose 5 more goals per season at set pieces if it lets us score 15 more goals from open play" is far harder. If your manager believes this, but your data analysts aren't convinced and keep making recommendation based on how good centre backs are at set pieces or how good midfielder are at tackling, you get the wrong players on the transfer short list.

The conversations and agreements that have to happen to get everyone aligned take time. It also needs results on the pitch. If we get murdered this season for having a short CB and a tippy-tappy midfield, you can guarantee it'll be harder for ETH to convince his scouting team to propose more names of the same type.

Its easy to forget that our transfer plans are not determined by just ETH, or just him, Murtough & Arnold. There's probably a dozen people involved in identifying, analysing and recommending every player, even if the senior staff make the final decision. ETH can't spend 10 hours a day reviewing videos of upcoming players in Italy or Argentina. He's relying on others to do that for him and to shortlist and recommend options that he and others can review. If the people watching those players have a different view to ETH about what constitutes good, then you have a problem.

Given all this I'm happy enough that United have taken shortcuts this summer by going for players ETH has managed or knows about from his time at Ajax. You wouldn't expect our strategy around transfers to be aligned just yet. If we go into next summer still chasing his former players however, then that will be far more telling of a system not working.
 

NZT-One

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Should it be criticised for engaging in poker so as to try and get the best players and the best deals?

Or should the approach have been very much get what we can done early and if not move on to a different player?
Yes, the club should be criticised for engaging in this sort of poker. Of course not in general but knowing what kind of challenge lies ahead of us, we should have modified our approach to the transfer window. We can't just act as if we would sit comfortable already, only trying to add the cherry on the cream. In terms of this actual example with FDJ, I'd even be fine with staying in the poker but that shouldn't stop us from doing other business as well. Which it likely does, seeing that the FDJ deal accounts for such a big chunk of the budget.

If I would have been in charge of transfers for this summer, I would have done the following:
a) in the minute it was clear that ETH is going to be the next manager, I would have tried to get in some expertise, what kind of players he usually likes and where and which roles his players have on the pitch, we could have tried to interview some of his coaches (paid) to give us information, what we could do to prepare for the time ETH will take charge

b) Assessment of the squad plus reserve team, complete player profile for each player, skillset, qualities, strength, weaknesses, contract length. Create a 3 year plan in terms of youngsters and possible exits from 1st team, to at least have an idea, when and where transfer actions will be needed or should be taken with consideration

c) Anticipate the biggest road blocks in terms of personal for ETH, have he scouting department prepare lists and reports on potential targets, for the most promising one or two per roadblock, create low intensity contact to find out if player would be interested

d) don't let the heads of scout go before the summer, keep them until after so transition is smooth

e) the minute ETH is in, put together an action plan, synchronizing his roadblocks for the squad with the ones we anticipated, discuss targets, have scouts engage with new targets based on ETH

f) create a priority list for each potential gap in the squad, factor in time for pre-season preparations as an important factor next to financial issues, not as a lower tier factor

g) try to execute the plan as pragmatic as possible. According to priority list, be ready to step away from Plan A if the chances seem to be low. If Plan Bs for one position are an issue, find creative solutions

Go from there...

Specific changes I would have done this summer based on the limited knowledge as a fan:
- overall approach: getting the club on track is more important than sentimentalities of individual players or youth development, would have tried to adress multiple positions spreading the budget accordingly
- defense: would have gone for a RB, if I think Laird isn't ready. I'd tend to go for a short-term solution assessing Lairds potential, push long term solution to future
- midfield: needs at least two additions, bring in a progressor and a capable DM, doesn't need to be top shelf but at least one should be a long term solution (either by going proven quality or great potential)
- attack: Add in a capable dribbler who, best case scenario, is capable playing all around the front line, more focus on fast improvement then long term option
- addons: as soon as those are set, look for possible good deals to improve the squad, cheap punts like Malacia, free agents like Eriksen to add options, bring in trusted players for manager like Martinez. I think, the players we got are fine but somehow we avoided areas I feel are more important
- Ronaldo: was difficult to predict his behaviour, trying to add a striker wouldn't be essential to me personally, could be pushed to the winter if he really goes, something I wouldn't be against

The strategy is clear and correct, no matter how much people want to complain about it:

- The club is refusing to sign any random alternative just for the sake of making a signing. This is the correct approach. We are trying to sign De Jong, which has not been concluded in any way at this point - the transfer window does not close until September, so there is still time to complete this. Signing random players is the reason why the squad is in such a mess. Players have to fulfil a role, and if De Jong happens to be the only one available that can fulfil that role, no alternative signing should be made.
Nobody is asking for random players, I don't know where that comes from. If Tielemans, Neves or whatever are random players to you, thats fine, but they aren't to other football fans. The mess is there because the club himself always shifted responsibilty for sports matters to the manager. Signing players without an overarching plan is an issue, but nobody is asking for that. If your plan is, put all the eggs in the FDJ basket, thats fine. Another plan might be to spent the 80 million on 2 players, diversifying the risk and chances of success. We want to improve as a team, there is no god written necessity for bringing in one specific player for a system to work. As soon as somebody tries to tell you something is without alternative, you should get sceptical because he might just want to cover his shortcomings.

- The above has already been stated by the club and manager. They have also said that there are alternative targets, but, if they are not available, they will then look to within the club (academy) to fulfil that role. This, again, is correct as it reduces the amount of money wasted on players who people will want replaced in the near future.
It is impressive, how easily the club is still feeding the followers breadcrumbs and how many didn't seem to learn anything along the way. The academy has been there all the fecking time, bringing player from there through to the first team is fecking hard. It is really really rare. It is the exception of the norm. It is fine to be enthusiastic but this agains feels like blind faith. I can imagine, it feels comfy to feel as a good supporter, vying for youth players - but is it really? Is it really the best for our youth players to be thrown into the shark infested waters that is "the Manchester United sea back to success"? No it isn't. Just look, how Elanga is talked about. The talents will be used by people like you to make them feel better and after a year, they get thrown away because the next batch of talent is around the corner.

It isn't something personal - but it kind of triggers me to see how often there are negativity accusations often accompanied by picturing themselves as Top Reds... The club really didn't do a lot for a long time that earned them some leeway or trust. Of course those are professionals, they know more than we do, but still, they have to prove themselves. And if there are plans behind all that, maybe think about a better way of communicating it. I agree with many on here: It doesn't look like we have been very prepared for the window. Our buys until today are alright, but absolutely nothing a top club in our situation should be proud of. There should be more to do, I can imagine that it is difficult - yeah, it is but then get active. Don't sit on your fecking hands waiting for other parties to move. Being passive isn't a good trait in our situation.

- Player sales are difficult when the club wants them to leave. The selling club is in the weakest position in these cases. The player actually wanting to leave and a club wanting to buy them is a necessity; the selling club has no say in this. This is a mess of a position, so I am not surprised the club has struggled to sell. However, enormous wages are being saved on Pogba, Matic, Mata, Lingard, Henderson (wages are being fully paid by Forest), and Pereira. Despite only one being a sale, this is still a big change in the squad.
I agree here. We are paying the price for the mistakes we have done in the past. Giving out those contracts was bound to come back to us. So we have to do the best we can now and make sure we avoid situations like that in the future.

It will depend on the outcome. If we get De Jong in the end then it will have been a success but it's looking highly unlikely at this point

I'm baffled by the approach to other positions though. We're clearly have a weakness at right back and right wing and appear to be doing nothing.
I think, the first statement is completely wrong. You can't just evaluate a strategy based on its outcome. If you do that, you are extremely restricting yourself in terms of adaptation and possible chances to improve. You say if we get De Jong, it will have been a success. But what if he needs time to adapt and we miss CL once again, due to multiple factors. Would it be correct for me to say the strategy was wrong because the wanted outcome was at least CL football? Of course not. Outcome matters, but it should never be the only factor.

meanwhile, others close their eyes and sing "la la la" to distract them from reality while believing it will all work out magically in the end. which are the "fecking' stupid ones?
I think, there are some fans who have trouble dealing with adversities, uncomfortable conditions, disharmonies. Thats why groups seem to have a tendency to rally behind the least intrusive common ground. Same here, it is easy to just believe in the club, having learned from its mistakes, saying the right things, listening to the fans, "United did what it could", "it isn't on us", "if the manager wants him...". But other people are asking questions "do we really have no alternatives", "is there really nothing we could have done differently" - being sceptical shouldn't be seen as instant doom mongering or whatever. This will only accelerate the polarisation. Everybody has different expectations, has different values, thinks the clubs needs to do this or that. And based on that, our outlook changes. At the end of the day baseless optimism isn't better than baseless pessimism even if some of you like positivity more.
 

pcaming

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I’m interested to see what the consensus is here from fans as I see a lot of mixed opinions.

Everyones ideal window is to get your top targets in early, within budget and in good time to settle with the squad.

In reality though, and as with any business deals, time itself can play a huge part so often the bigger deals can only happen when deadlines shorten, clubs become pressured and a game of poker takes place.

So in terms of the club where do you stand on this?

Should it be criticised for engaging in poker so as to try and get the best players and the best deals?

Or should the approach have been very much get what we can done early and if not move on to a different player?
There was merit in sticking to the de Jong situation for a time, but that time elapsed. I understand he's a great player and would fit in seemingly perfectly *although that is rarely guaranteed*, but the squad really needed a new midfielder, heck we needed two. This going down to the wire and being okay with failing is going to bite us, this is something that once again everyone in football knows except the people in charge at united.

The Ajax or bust strategy is also just trash, we could have done so much business with the money we were willing to spend on their players. We really have zero scouts at this club??

When you factor in the need for the squad to adapt to a new style of play, it was imperative that we got most of the business done early. We didn't, we won't get the targets we want, we are incredibly understaffed and we don't look like pulling our head out the sand and being decisive at all.
 

mitchmouse

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Piers Moron reckons we will be the biggest disappointment in the PL this season. Shows what a cretin he is: I expect very little from the squad as it stands right now so no idea what he even means. Mind you on a Monday he thinks Arteta is the greatest manager on the planet but by Wednesday calls for his sacking. Rinse and repeat each week
 

the_cliff

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It's all good and well waiting on FDJ, he's a player worth waiting for.

My problem is the attacking situation. We've lost Cavani/Greenwood/Lingard and still haven't got in anyone when we knew this in Jan. It's a worry that there really isn't even any noise on potential incomings in attacking positions.
 

mitchmouse

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It's all good and well waiting on FDJ, he's a player worth waiting for.

My problem is the attacking situation. We've lost Cavani/Greenwood/Lingard and still haven't got in anyone when we knew this in Jan. It's a worry that there really isn't even any noise on potential incomings in attacking positions.
I wonder if they are hoping to get by this year and then go big on Kane next summer but that seems very risky to me. Chances are Spurs will finish above us again this season.

I honestly think we should test the water with Leicester and try for Vardy: proven PL goal scorer, good pro and might want one more big pay day. Seems worth a try to me.

If not him, (and I know I'll get abuse for this) I also just wonder if Aubameyang might fancy Old Trafford as a way of sticking two finger up at Arteta and Arsenal. There are certainly worse choices than these too, neither of whom would break the bank in transfer fees. Give one of a two-year deal to entice them and give us time to scout (do we still do that) a top-class younger model
 

Sammy McIlroys fan club

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The biggest problem at United last year was a clearly toxic dressing room. The squad was bloated and full of unhappy and disinterested players and it showed on the pitch. So Far we have got shot of

Lingard
Pogba
Cavani
Mata
Matic
Henderson (loan)
Pereira
Telles (Loan)
Bailly (Loan) Probably
AWB Possibly
Jones Possibly
Williams Possibly

That's between 9-12 players not at the training ground this season. In fairness Pereira and Williams weren't there last season. It is still a huge turn around with only 3 players in so far.
Am I happy we are clearing out unhappy, toxic and non contributing players, yes
Could our recruitment be more efficient, yes
Do we have a long way to go, yes but we appear to be replacing unhappy grumbling older players with a mix of new recruits and youth players. Hopefully this will lead to a higher energy more pressing team and better performances and less overpaid prima donnas like we have been watching for a while.
In answer to the OP yes I do like the new strategy, even if it is blindingly obvious.
 

Castia

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How can anybody be happy with this summer so far?

A squad player left back, a free transfer attacking midfielder and yet another centre back. Seems that we need to spend upwards of 50m every summer on a centre back.

We needed a big summer. We have a new manager and lots of players have left and more will surely go before the deadline but we've completely failed it.

We're acting like a club on a very strict budget, I do have my suspicions that the club was hoping to have made a decent amount of money from player sales and it just hasn't happened.
 

The White Pele

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I think it is ok for a transfer to become protracted and take a long time of it’s a player that will make a significant difference to your starting XI and there is no alternative with the same qualities at the same level. Liverpool had to wait for Van Dijk as an example but they were correct to wait. I think De Jong fits this criteria and therefore I can understand that we have been patient with the situation.

However, I think another outcome of a good transfer strategy is also to maintain a strong squad with 2 players of a certain level for every position. Not every player or every position needs to be a 10/10 player and therefore if you are astute and proactive in the market you can routinely pick up players that fit the profile of what we require for a reasonable fee and with reasonable wage demands. Ideally you pick players from smaller clubs that are not tied down to long contracts and with their current salary being significantly lower than that of an average Manchester United first team player. You would then expect to see growth from these players in a United shirt.

These players can form the basis of a squad and can be freshened up each year whilst also making those big marquee signings in the positions that really make a difference: striker, central midfield, central defence, goalkeeper.

We have been poor at maintaining a strong squad. We have squandered big transfer fees and big wages on players that haven’t met the criteria of being must-have. We have struggled to move players on due to the high wages we have committed and we have failed to successfully recycle the squad with smart signings at the right time.

Eriksen and Malacia are examples of using the market well but there should have been more this summer and in the positions we desperately need.