Why Moyes needs a marquee signing

Posted by Musa Okwonga

Thiago Alcantara, Gareth Bale, Cristiano Ronaldo, Cesc Fabregas, Leighton Baines. Manchester United have pulled out the chat-up lines on these players this summer, but they haven't come away with the phone numbers. Meanwhile, by humbling contrast, their "noisy neighbours" are quietly carrying out an impressive sequence of signings.

While Old Trafford has yet to greet someone who would improve its first XI, Manchester City have welcomed Fernandinho, Jesus Navas, Stevan Jovetic and Alvaro Negredo. Any one of these purchases would represent a significant step forward; taken together, they look like the best round of transfer business done by a Premier League club this preseason.

- Payne: Moyes ice-cool in the face of pressure

Manchester United's difficulty has been that they are aiming high, almost improbably so. Of the five players to whom they have made either an explicit or strongly rumoured approach, three (Ronaldo, Bale and Baines) are indisputably their team's star players, while Fabregas was a less likely target the moment that Thiago went on his merry way to Bayern Munich. Of course, it can be argued that Manchester United's strategy is audacious, and is just the kind of ambition that a club of this size should be showing. All the same, though, it doesn't look too smart if you're constantly getting turned down.

At this juncture, the club may plead patience. After all, there is still a month to go before the season starts. Yet supporters could be forgiven for feeling a touch of anxiety, and fearing that, in this pursuit of big-name signings, other lower-profile yet highly effective players are being neglected. On a more promising note, the club have apparently expressed interest in Geoffrey Kondogbia of Sevilla, a defensive midfielder of growing renown; a player who has the potential to be a world star, and who is merely in need of a platform.

Yet, so far, this is all talk. And, as Elvis sang, "a little less conversation/a little more action please." Manchester United's difficulty in the transfer market may consist partly in the fact that, when it comes to Europe's elite players, the Premier League just isn't the draw that English clubs might hope it to be. But, beyond that, it may also reflect the uncertainty of potential signings over David Moyes' tenure, and how that will work out.

Viewed from that perspective, this is perhaps why a big name is important as a statement of intent: it signals that the world's biggest footballers are prepared to come to work for a manager whom, though talented, is still unproven at the very highest level. Among many of Manchester United's fans, the refrain is that they should trust in Moyes; those fans must hope that the club's remaining transfer targets will now do the same.

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