Manchester United haven’t always been this sh*te at transfers as De Gea defended

Manchester United haven’t always been this sh*te at transfers as De Gea defended

Manchester United have been rotten at transfers in recent years but they made good signings in yesteryear, including David De Gea.

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Man Utd incompetence is a new thing
From when I was a kid getting into the game up until Ferguson left, United were the team to join. They were one of, if not, the best while having arguably the world’s best manager. When you moved to United, you didn’t plan to leave.

Beckham – while you may say it was low considering his status globally, on a footballing level, one could say that Madrid breaking their and the worlds transfer record to sign him would have been ridiculous, both then and now. Was he worth more than Zidane on the pitch? – had started his career in Manchester, achieving the lot in terms of trophies.

Cristiano Ronaldo left as a world record transfer (also having won the lot). Van Nistelrooy was bought for €28.5m and sold for €15m. Granted his first two years at Madrid were not exactly end of career stuff, but he had to make room for the Tevez/Rooney/Ronaldo years to come.

Players like Andy Cole and Jaap Stam were sold for profit, whether rightly or wrongly sold, or players were allowed to leave after years of service and trophies at a lower price or at the end of their contracts. Which would have been very much a normal thing at the time. The transfer market has become jacked up and more addicted to crack in the last 15 odd years, but under Ferguson, United really never massively overpaid, and didn’t sign players because they were too high. Ferdinand/Berbatov are examples of fair prices, in hindsight, while Veron/Forlan are examples of bad prices, also in hindsight. Toldo/Batistuta are examples of not buying for deeming too pricey.

Sure, lots of transfers can be subject to ridicule over time regarding the players’ success at United or elsewhere should they not move or after they have, but in terms of selling and buying fees, United never really had their pants pulled down until more recently, when they have become shite. The United Tax is another example of hindsight and an overzealous football media.

Before, United bought the biggest players, which tended to cost more. Now, all transfers are subject to borderline obsessive coverage before, during, and after the deals for years to come.

United were the second biggest club in the world after Real Madrid (the only team who you could argue got the better of them in transfer dealings during that time) and the club to join, in which you would rarely leave unless you became surplus to requirements – usually after a few trinkets and pots on the mantlepiece for good measure.

Since Ferguson (and David Gill?) left, that has changed dramatically. United have never been this bad in the transfer market. Beckham is an outlier, and only in the hindsight of today’s market prices and where a players global aura is actively considered as part of their transfer fee, not by anything that ever happened on the pitch.
Neill, Ireland


Is that you, Charlie?
The recent article regarding the transfer incompetence of Man United got me wondering… does Charlie Kane moonlight for them?

I couldn’t get fake motorbike burnouts and his goldfish grin out my head once I started reading it.
Dr Oyvind, Earth


Brace for an Mbappe saga
I find the whole Mbappe x PSG saga strangely fascinating. I think it speaks to a greed that is at the heart of our favourite sport, and how it occasionally rubs up against its own inherent morality which is that of a competitor.

PSG signed Mbappe for a crazy amount of money. And in his time at the club, he has earned almost £200 million. I imagine, when your wealth reaches that sort of level, money ceases to have any real meaning. More of it doesn’t necessarily fulfil your needs. Maslow did a hierarchy of it, and considering that wealth sorts out the bottom two rungs (physical needs and safety needs) you are left with the more human desires, like that to succeed. PSG is no longer the place where Mbappe can achieve that.

He’s won trophies there but he sees people like Haaland achieving what he has not on the biggest stages. He knows Real can do it, and he could emulate his hero Ronaldo.So it makes perfect sense that he wants to leave. Regardless of the mad soap opera that is playing out, it is about 2 hurt parties, one who feels his dreams are unattainable and another who feel they have not got a return on their investment.

Yet PSG, and their owners, believe money is king. That their contracts mean they ‘own’ Mbappe. That they can make threats to make his life hell which does not sound like a workplace any of us would like to be in. The vast wealth however means that they do own him, in a way, but that ownership is coming to an end and Mbappe sees an out that ensures he can continue to live on a king’s ransom, while also achieving his footballing goals.

The problem that I think lies at the centre of this, is that PSG bought Mbappe to achieve their goals (win the CL) and he hasn’t done that for them. They see a busted investment. And the best way to do that is to recoup some of the money you lost on it. The idea of a free transfer at the end of a contract is an anathema!

So how do I see this playing out over the summer? Real, PSG and Mbappe all circle one another, leaking things to the press, Real bid a stupid amount but amortised over 8 years, they slap a 2 billion release cause, PSG save some face, and Mbappe gets what he wants. I cannot foresee him staying and leaving on free, and I can’t see him re-signing another contract, and so instead we will have a drawn out saga over the summer with the inevitable end of everyone being sort of happy, but also not.
John Matrix AFC


Keepers and coachability
While Manchester United fans are celebrating the departure of a goalkeeper who was objectively good for them for a number of years, it’s worth taking a moment to acknowledge that the most important relationship on the field is the one between the goalkeeper and their centre-backs. Go back to any point in football history of your choosing and you will most likely find the most successful teams are the ones with the strongest such relationship. It doesn’t always show up in the numbers, but it does in the style of play, and how the team is set up to the goalkeeper’s strengths.

For example, if a keeper likes to come for crosses and corners, it’s up to the centre-backs to make room for them to do so; if they prefer to stay on their line, the centre-backs need to be capable of winning aerial battles in crucial areas. It’s almost a symbiotic relationship in all areas of play, playing to each other strengths and minimising the effects of their weaknesses – one of the reasons Liverpool have been so good in recent years is the way Alisson is able to bail his centre-backs out when they repeatedly get caught ball-watching.

All of this is coachable, and we come back to the usual problem with Manchester United, compared to Liverpool or Manchester City: all three routinely sign high quality players, but at only one of them is there regularly the sense that they don’t do anything to help those players improve. If Erik ten Hag can change that culture, his team will challenge for major trophies before too much longer.
Ed Quoththeraven


Let’s not forget De Gea was de greatest for a while
What a strange mail earlier talking about De Gea
. Firstly, the comparison between him and Pickford. Pickford and Maguire play together far less and they play against a much worse standard of opposition. The sample size is tiny. I’ve also seen Maguire have nightmares for England and seen him have a good season with De Gea.

You’ve contradicted yourself with the Schmeichel v VDS v DDG argument. You’ve admitted yourself that they played in far better teams than DDG. If you put DDG from 12-18 in those teams, I don’t think he would be out of place at all. Also that’s how long the other two played for United too around 6/7 years. De Gea could justifiably claim he had the highest peak. He was widely considered one of the top 3 GKs for quite a while and by far United’s best player in a lot of those years too.

I’m not even his biggest fan, I don’t think he’s good enough for United anymore and I think he’s a bit of a liability. But you seem to be very bias here with your selective memory. Instead of acknowledging the good things he’s done you’re just focusing on his last few years. He’s quite obviously better than f**king Barthez. You make yourself look a bit daft by spouting stuff like this.
Dion, Arsenal


…So I was perusing the Mailbox yesterday, after a week long hiatus truth be told, and Hugo pops out of the shadows to make me double-take and spit my mocha out. Quick clean up and I re-read the nonsense that lay before me.

One can only assume recency bias or that Hugo’s surname is Lloris, trying to take the spotlight away from his own penchant for mistakes. David de Gea was an outstanding GK for many, many years. He was a young, arguably nervous, GK when he arrived. But he walks out the door a legend.

I agree he’s not great at coming off his line, nor pinging the ball over 30 yards to the foot of an attacker; and his ability to read a penalty is poor. But he is as good, if not the best, as any GK in the world at shot-stopping and recovering to save again. His reactions would make a gun-slinger blush. And ultimately a GK’s main job is to stop the ball going in the net – and by the pubes of god can he do that!

So keep your nonsensical ramblings to yourself Hugo. One of the greatest goalkeepers to ever grace the PL has now left the building; so show some long overdue respect.
Garey Vance, MUFC


City legend
To Hugo. Is it right that David de Gea conceded 70 goals against Manchester City, alone? Read it somewhere, yesterday.

Note to self; Must have a word about a statue, it’d certainly be fitting, considering those magnificent stats….

Just trying to help
Levenshulme Blue, Manchester 19


Keeper ranking
Note to Ian Watson, there was a Manchester United prior to Alex Ferguson, during which period Harry Gregg saved his teammates in the wreckage of a plane crash and Alex Stepney won everything at the club including their first European Cup 10 years after said disaster. If you’re going to do a job, do it properly man. (the feature clearly stated the parameters at the top. No one is suggesting Tomas Kuszczak ranks above Harry Gregg – MC)
Rob, Xiamen

Read more: Man Utd goalkeepers ranked: De Gea in top three behind Champions League winners…


Legends kickabouts
To Morris; re the ‘Operazione Nostalgia’ in Italy. Mate, have you not heard of any legends games in England?! Literally every year huge games are played to packed stadiums.

Liverpool Legends beat Man U legends 2-1 in September last year to a full house at Anfield. I think there was a return fixture at Old Trafford too. And as far as i am aware, no one was murdered either…every year these games are played all over this country. It’s an English tradition in fact. Glad to see the Italians have caught up.

Although to be honest, when you look at the Liverpool squad, legends is somewhat pushing it for some of them.


A legend down the pub?
Morris’ email on nostalgia and actual footballers turning up with the fans got me thinking.

So if you and a couple of mates were in the pub, which player/ manager/ whatever would you want to join you for a couple of pints and a bag of pork scratchings and you can ask them anything, all off the record?

For me (Clive), as a United fan, it would have to be Eric Cantona. What was it like when Leeds sold you? How did you feel after you kicked that twat at Selhurst? Just how brilliant was John O’Shea? It’s your shout, Eric.

Feel free to add your own thoughts. Well, it’s slow and there are slim pickings right?
Steve (ex-Flixton red), Ontario


Summer break
I have to admit I found Robert, Kilkenny’s old-man-shouting-at-clouds complaints in this morning’s Mailbox very funny, on the subject of football media coverage during off-seasons.

I’ve been following football for 20 years now. So when Robert talks about “back in the day, we just watched tennis and cricket all summer whereas now we are inundated with football content”, I have to be honest, I have absolutely no idea what he’s talking about. 20 years ago I was compulsively refreshing Football365 and the Guardian for any football news/gossip. 20 years later I am largely doing the same thing. I have not noticed all that much change during that time, all things considered.

When Robert complains about content creation (clips of players walking into training, fist-bumps, kit launches, behind the scenes footage), where and how is this getting pushed onto anyone? I don’t see it anywhere on Football365 or the Guardian (I use an AdBlocker, maybe I’m missing something). I admittedly do not follow anything football-related on social media (I don’t see the point). So is Robert basically setting up his social media accounts to follow channels which push this kind of content, and in response writing in to Football365’s Mailbox to complain about it, despite the fact Football365 is not responsible for said content, while Robert is responsible for his own social media habits/preferences?
Oliver Dziggel, Geneva Switzerland