Manchester United’s bizarre market moves leads to questions over their true ambition
Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Max Aarons are both very good footballers. Wan-Bissaka and Aarons are both young and English. Wan-Bissaka and Aarons are both right backs. But they are very different and possess qualities the other doesn’t have. So why are Man United looking at signing them both? With the deals likely to happen, it is worth making the most of the promotional offer over at William Hill and seeing the latest transfer odds.
Wan-Bissaka is clearly priority number one at United and Aarons would only arrive if a deal for the Crystal Palace man couldn’t be done but it does make you wonder what the over-arching plan is at Old Trafford.
Even the idea that the club need to fork out the best part of £50 million for a right back smacks of a clueless football department at club quickly becoming renowned for its off the field successes as opposed to the glories that were so common under Sir Alex Ferguson. Diego Dalot, then 19-years of age, was signed by Jose Mourinho just 12 months ago for £19 million and was expected to make the right-back berth his own. Fast-forward to the current day and Dalot impressed more as a right winger than at full back, Mourinho has gone and United are looking at shelling nearly three times what they paid for the Portuguese to bring in a more-reliable option.
All of this reeks of a club with no long term vision, happy to plug gaps when they arise but never properly address the issue.
Aarons and Wan-Bissaka are both fantastic players who will most likely go on to have long careers playing at the very highest level but the idea of having one as transfer target number one and the other as the back-up for a deal failing to materialise is the exact reason Ed Woodward should hand the football operations remit of his job onto someone else.
In Woodward’s defence (the first time those three words have been put together all summer) he has been trying to appoint a Director of Football. The problem is he’s been trying to do it since he got rid of Mourinho in December and looks no closer to determining who will get the job six months down the line. Darren Fletcher and Rio Ferdinand have both been tipped for the role but neither have any experience (beyond having United DNA) of a highly specific role at such a big club.
You do worry that even the appointment of a Director of Football might not be enough to bring together a fractious club that has serious problems of past-their-peak, underperforming players and a support growing disinterested thanks to the ultra-business-like approach of the scarcely seen owners.