In today’s day and age, with news and opinions coming at us 24/7 via the internet and social media, when something happens people want to make their reactions and judgements immediately. Sometimes it seems that all semblance’s of patience are thrown right out the window. Story happens, you react, then we move on. Does it matter that often times we don’t actually know what the effect of what just happened will be for weeks, months, or even years? Of course not, we just react and put a label or grade on it anyway.
In comes Manchester United’s summer transfer window. After a summer of being linked with trying to sign just about every top player on the planet, United’s final day of the transfer market consisted of creating a very big mess in a the failed transfer of goalkeeper David de Gea, and spending £36 million on an unheard of French teenager.
Naturally everybody was quick to look at how Manchester United’s deadline day unfolded and label it an embarrassment. It was embarrassing that after an entire summer of knowing that David de Gea wanted to join Real Madrid, United couldn’t get a deal done and were going to lose him for free. It was embarrassing that despite everyone screaming from the mountain tops that United needed another striker, the club was forced to spend £36 million on a teenager, a move that screamed “panic buy.”
But now that we’ve had a few weeks and games to think about it, maybe we were a little too quick to judge them. Did we ever stop and think, maybe United had known what they were doing all along?
Let’s start with David de Gea. Throughout last season the rumors of mutual interest between Real Madrid and de Gea would not go away. To his credit, de Gea never actually publicly admitted that he wanted to leave United, he just refused to sign a new contract. United however made it clear that they would not be bullied by Real Madrid and wouldn’t sell the goalkeeper unless they got exactly the price they were seeking. United even went as far to say that if Real Madrid didn’t meet their price they were prepared to lose de Gea for free when his contract expired next summer.
We still don’t know all the facts as to why de Gea’s deal fell through. Right now we’re in a he said-he said shouting match between Real Madrid and Manchester United over who is to blame. Initially it seemed like Manchester United had no reason to flub the deal, which would have seen Real spend £29 million and send goalkeeper Kaylor Navas the other way. On the other hand Real had every reason to as they were paying way more then they felt he was worth and they knew he would want to sign for them for free next summer. When you look back at it though, maybe United did screw up the paperwork, because it turns out they had every reason to prevent the deal from going through.
The immediate reaction from deadline day was United were now retaining a goalkeeper who was unsettled and was certainly going to leave for free next summer. That’s what everyone thought, everyone except for Manchester United.
The story changed a week later when de Gea signed a new four year contract, a contract United knew he would sign. How? All along United had an ace up their sleeve, the 2016 Euro’s. de Gea wants to be Spain’s number one for that tournament but was told he’d need to be playing regular first team football to be considered. Prior to the transfer deadline, United had dropped de Gea for six matches, sending a message to the goalkeeper, if you want to play you need to sign a new contract. As soon as de Gea returned from international duty a new contract was signed and the next day he was back in the goal making great saves against Liverpool.
Martial on the other hand is a case of Manchester United returning to their roots and going back to what made them so successful in the 90’s and 00’s. Despite throwing about every big name like Gareth Bale and Thomas Mueller out there, players like that are not typically the players United sign. Under Sir Alex Ferguson, United’s bread and butter was buying young players with great upside who had good value. Players like Nemanja Vidic, Patrice Evra, Michael Carrick, and Javier Hernandez, were brought in on the cheap and became the backbone of a very successful squad. They were complemented by high priced, but young, teenagers Wayne Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo.
Recently United broke away from that strategy and began buying expensive and already established players which had mixed to negative results. Robin van Persie had a great first year with the club, but never recaptured that form. Dimitar Berbatov won the Golden Boot one season, but never really looked like he fit in. Radamel Falcao and Angel di Maria? Well I think United fans would like to forget about them as soon as possible.
Manchester United want to be viewed as a top team in the world. The top teams in the world have the best players. If you’re United, why buy a player like Christian Benteke, who had a good season in the Premier League but isn’t world class, when you can afford to take a chance on a teenager who very well could turn in to a world class player. The price for Anthony Martial, which could raise to £58 million if he wins the Ballon d’Or, suggests that both United and Monaco see him as a player who very well could become world class.
It’s still too early to do a complete 180 and call United’s deadline day a rounding success, but Martial’s three goals in two Premier League games suggest United very well may have stumbled into a star.