I must say I’ve been loving the Spanish press this summer, and their ongoing quest to facilitate the transfer of David De Gea to Real Madrid. At the tail end of last season it was all, “De Gea to Real is agreed”. This then slipped back a bit to, “Real expect to sign De Gea before pre-season training starts. Only fine details remain”. Then it was, “Real are confident they will sign De Gea before the beginning of their summer tour”. They’re so used to clubs just bending over and inviting the Spaniards to violate them, bless them. I mean, they usually do. But then Woody messed with Ramos, a billion soft toys wearing teeny tiny white shirts and shorts were flung from prams and suddenly it seems like no one knows what to do. “United won’t sell De Gea if Real don’t part with Ramos (what? Last chance, bend over you Downton-loving scum)”. Woodward has, thus far, played an absolute blinder, keeping himself in enough credit that the distinct lack of signings can be overlooked for now. Bless him, he almost got over his compulsive briefing, but just had to tell the Manc Hack Pack that he expected smooth, early business in the transfer market this summer, presumably to avoid United being an absolute shambles at the start of another season. But he’s been very quiet since, which is as it should be, and there is clearly no need to panic yet. I’m reserving that for two weeks today. It’s an arbitrary date but one which I’ve chosen because it feels about right, so there. Thereafter I reserve the right to have a tantrum.
Most of the news this week has been about players leaving the club. There is a misconception that United are terrible sellers, never extracting market rate for outgoing assets. What is often ignored is what United are actually appalling at, giving average or declining footballers huge, long term contracts which mean that when they come to sell very few clubs can or are willing to match their wages and offer similar security of contract. When you bear in mind that most of the small minority who can match a player’s wages at United have very little desire to recruit average or declining footballers then you have a problem. The only solution to that problem is to drastically discount the prospective transfer fee to allow a mid-range club to offer the same contract terms. Ultimately the club want the player off the wage-bill to allow the money to be used for incoming talent.
Take Nani, for example, who has spent a significant part of the last 12 hours soiling himself at Istanbul airport as he was met from his flight by thousands of rabid Fenerbahce fans. I used to like Nani. He was fun and at one time one of the most productive wide players in English and European football. It was around the time when Valencia was also one of the most productive wide players in English and European football. Tough to imagine, innit kids? Nani took a lot of stick for crying at Anfield like a man who had a four inch gash in his leg which exposed the bone, when in fact he actually had a four inch gash in his leg which exposed the bone. But, at his peak, he really was terrific. His two goals against Bayern Munich, in that horrible tie that saw United slump out of Europe on away goals having been 3-0 up at home in the second leg, were peak Nani. His first, an instinctive trailing leg flick from a low cross was pure footballing poetry. Lee Sharpe would have been proud of it. Even as recently as 3/4 years ago he was of use to us, but injuries and declining, erratic form saw him fall further and further out of favour. Then a strange thing happened. David Moyes, in his infinite wisdom, colluded with Woody and concluded that the peripheral Portuguese should be given a new long-term £100k pw deal. Whether it was to maintain his value as an asset with only a year left on his deal or because the Scottish clown actually rated him we’ll never know. If it’s the latter then Dave should be kneecapped, the former then Ed should be walking on his hands for the rest of his days. The following summer Nani’s stock had fallen so low that United had to loan him as part of the deal that brought Marcos Rojo to Old Trafford and still pay his wages. Little surprise then that when a mid-ranking club finally came calling, in this instance the Turks, the fee had to be hugely discounted to balance out the wage cost. United rarely sell unwillingly and seldom part with talented players at their peak. Their outcasts are usually damaged goods on big salaries who would be a risk for any future employer, or, if it’s Anderson, a total, obese liability. At the time, the sale of Danny Welbeck to Arsenal for £16m was widely derided, but who is laughing now? 4 league goals and a seat on the bench later it sure as hell isn’t The Gunners.
Also likely to depart for a token fee to Fenerbahce is Robin Van Persie. At the age of 32 and on circa £250k per week it would be a miracle if United receive a fee at all. The news prompted social media Arsenal types to launch in to a barrage of mockery about a player who left them for twice the wage, to play for the World’s greatest manager and who almost single-handedly won his new, much bigger club the Premier League title, the trophy he so desired and could not see arriving if he remained at the Emirates. The guard of honour his former employers had to give him was the cherry on the f*****g cake. His latter two seasons have been a little disappointing as his legs have begun to fail him, but do they think that he or we care? Hell no Jethro. That one, wonderful season made the deal worth it. Number twenty, Fergie’s last season. Perfect. So no, I doubt he regrets it Cockney types, as much as your bitterness tries to persuade you otherwise. But it is time for him to now move on. With his value to the team and system declining and his chances of being first choice striker also going south it is best for all parties if he takes a final payday in the sun, amongst a sea of feral cats, in a city where men inspect your wife/girlfriend from head to toe as they pass you in the street and where the hummus is poisonous. But you’ll love it Robin, honest you will. Istanbul is an ace city, those things apart.
Also set to be jettisoned was the whiny little tart Javier Hernandez, but in a warm-up for Mexico prior to the North American Gold Cup he broke something or other which keeps him out of action and unfit for a medical for some time. I say ‘something or other’ because I refuse to read stories about a player I used to love because I can’t be ars*d to risk reading any more of his mingeing. He may still go this summer, unless Woody goes all 2013 again and fails to sign a Van Persie replacement, and his fee should be slightly higher than Nani’s because he does actually retain a positive image as a poacher and may actually be of some interest to some of those sides who can afford his wages. Maybe by then we’ll have signed a few players. If not I’ll be up to my neck in red-shirted soft toys, sucking on a dummy.
P.S. The new Adidas kit is ace.