By Ken Frampton (@Kframpton). For more from Ken, visit his website.
Almost three months ago, I had the good fortune to be asked to write a preview for the good lads at Under The Cosh as to what I thought was going to happen during United’s summer transfer window.
Now that the hilarious and terrifying events of this summer’s business have thankfully concluded, there’s no better time to look back and see if I was right or wrong.
That’s right, unlike those tabloids who will never tell you their success rate I’m going to grade myself on my transfer business acumen.
I wisely hedged my bets as to whether De Gea would stay, and no one could have predicted the absolute disaster that would follow on deadline day. Nor could anyone have anticipated the falling out between Louis van Gaal and Victor Valdes that has left the Spaniard in the doghouse without a squad number.
I felt that Lindegaard and Amos would depart, and both have. Sergio Romero has been brought in and is hopefully only playing until Spanish Dave gets his head around the idea that he’s got to be good and earn his place at the Euros. Sam Johnstone played well on tour but is now seemingly the third choice.
At right back it was a case of Rafael being shown the door and Antonio Valencia not being good enough to be first-choice. At the time, Nathaniel Clyne and Dani Alves were being talked about – and neither arrived. Instead, we got Matteo Darmian, and most Reds will tell you they are absolutely fine with that outcome.
In the middle, it was felt that Jonny Evans would leave and that an upgrade was required. Both proved to be correct, the problem is that we didn’t buy a player after flirting with Sergio Ramos and Nicolas Otamendi. Chris Smalling is much improved, but not world class.
On the port side, I missed the idea that Daley Blind would start the season there after Marcos Rojo ran into passport trouble and a donut truck on the way home from the Copa. I wanted Aymeric Laporte, and still do – although once Rojo is fit I think he will keep Blind on the bench. Also shouted out for Tyler Blackett to go out on loan, and voila – he’s off to Celtic!
Finally, I had expressed hope that Luke Shaw would come back from his holidays raring to go, and boy did he ever! He’s been in brilliant form, though was exposed against Swansea by getting too far forward.
I guess I hadn’t anticipated a switch to 4-2-3-1, nor that we would actually have the midfielders to play that formation. In my piece, I highlighted Michael Carrick’s importance, and the need to begin the act of replacing him. Little could I have imagined that we would sign Bastian Schweinsteiger [named] AND Morgan Schneiderlin [had only been a pipe dream]. Likely the best single day of the transfer window.
Assuming a proper, Dutch 4-3-3, I had guessed that the Mata and Herrera Fren-aissance would have gone unbroken. Leaving big ‘ol Fellaini to moonlight as a striker. Mata and Herrera are still in the team, but Juan is forced to play at right wing and Ander has to stick more to the ‘philosophy’ to be assured a place.
It was supposed to be Angel Di Maria, Rooney and Memphis! I thought we’d keep ADM, but as we now know there was some bad blood. Classic LVG.
Also discussed was Adnan Januzaj going out on loan, which I still don’t think is a good idea. Ashley Young signed his extension, and then we got down to the striker position. I quote:
Well, we have Wayne Rooney… and that could be it. And Wazza’s goal-scoring has not always been enough to carry this team offensively. Falcao is off, and rightly so. Robin van Persie is also potentially leaving. James Wilson is out of contract, although the club have offered an extension.
So, we need to sign someone – but we only play one striker and Rooney, as skipper, is undroppable. I’d prefer us to play two up top, but that’s not up to me. It’s a riddle, wrapped in a mystery inside a problem with scoring enough goals.
So… How do you solve a problem like Wayne Rooney? By signing a hugely expensive teenager to provide competition or to back him up and relegate the other young striker to third-choice again.
This teams main problem for the season will be scoring goals. There, I said it. I still think we should play two up top and we won’t, and I also think that LVG is choking the creativity out of this team with his style of play.
I had called for six major signings in the event that DDG stayed – that was three defenders, two in midfield and one more attacker [we had already signed Memphis]. We signed five, and I think many would agree that more was needed – probably a centre-half and an attacker.
On the outgoing column, we have been merciless and brutal – and this was needed. But with added cup and European matches we may have gone too far, especially in terms of having any kind of depth to cope with injuries and to provide solid competition for all places.
All in all, I’m pleased with how things turned out as they relate back to what I thought would happen. But I’m not certain we have the depth and quality to win anything this season – and for me, there are no more excuses now for the gaffer. This is truly his ‘selection’ now…
Follow Ken on Twitter – @Kframpton
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Manchester United: The Reshaping Continues
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