Summertime and the living isn't easy

Posted by Graham Hunter

So while Real Madrid were getting their man from the Premier League, in Gareth Bale, Manchester United couldn't prise theirs from La Liga.

The story of Ander Herrera and the fact that he remains an Athletic Club player now that the transfer market is closed is easier to tell than some people will make it.

Who the three guys who turned up at the Spanish League offices in Madrid might be a curious twist (they turned out to be lawyers for Laffer Abogados, who also worked on the Javi Martinez to Bayern Munich transfer) but they bear no real relation to the heart of the matter.

- Okwonga: Man Utd pay price for complacency
- Brewin: Moyes left to pick up pieces
- Man United blamed for Herrera failure

First, Herrera has all the quality, all the drive, all the technical skills to be a dominant figure in Manchester United's midfield and, in due course, a captain.

Second, I know that he firmly wanted the deal to take place.

Third, he resolved not to follow Javi Martinez's stance and force his way out -- partly because there was very little reaction time for him and his respect for Athletic was sufficiently high that either United did the deal efficiently and hyper-quickly, or else there would be no deal.

Finally, United moved too late.

I know for a fact that David Moyes remains a very firm appreciator of Ander's talents. One of the barriers to him pushing United very hard to pay the full €36 million was that he, quite sensibly, worried about how little personal scouting he'd been able to do on the player over the past few months. That process will now begin to ramp up and, who knows, there may be a time in the next two markets when the United manager is remorseless in making sure that a deal is struck.

Moyes had a view on what value he placed on the deal right now and that's the territory of a smart man. Buy the right player at the right price in the right way -- not in a hurry at the tab end of a transfer window.

What transpired, however, is that United weren't equipped to take a firm decision early enough about how hard to go in for Herrera and, once the bean-counters at the top of the club did indeed decide to pay €36 million, there was insufficient corporate savvy about how to get that done.

Indeed there remained, for too long, an idea that Athletic President Josu Urrutia would simply roll over at the last minute and drop his price. Those who thought that clearly haven't been following the episodes of Javi Martinez to Bayern or Fernando Llorente to Juventus.

United's executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward may prove to be a whizz at transfers in due course -- the transfer market is full of misinformation and treachery -- but this summer United lacked the know-how, experience and the cojones needed to cut through the rubbish and either get good deals done early or convert unmissable late opportunities if, unfortunately, they present themselves at the eleventh hour.

Dare I say that United need a director of football, an expert in how these things are achieved quietly and efficiently, to join Mr Woodward's staff?

I'm sure the United manager will be reviewing exactly how well his needs have been served by those who are charged with seeing through the transfer business this summer. For the new manager to achieve what he was brought in for he's going to need better support than he's been given this during this fraught transfer window.


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