United shambolic transfer window appearing to end with a farce

Posted by Mark Payne

Defeat at Anfield had spurred Manchester United's boardroom into action. As Monday drew to a close, the club were close to spending 70 million euros -- 36 million euros to meet the release clause for Athletic Bilbao midfielder Ander Herrera, and the rest for Everton's Marouane Fellaini. Then, the deal with Herrera fell through because of an elementary misunderstanding about Spanish tax. Manchester United, England's most successful club, are suddenly a laughingstock.

- Report: Herrera deal hits snag

After Sunday's limp performance at Anfield, the club needed to act. Monday had been a frantic day, not least because of the absurdly byzantine manner in which the Herrera transfer had to be conducted. The good news was that he was desperate to play for United and there were reports that he was taking a pay cut to do so. United officials were left standing around with a cheque book waiting to leap over a technical hurdle until the last minute. And they failed.

Herrera is billed as an attacking presence in the midfield despite his lack of scoring prowess. His age profile suggests that he is one for the future as opposed to a direct implant into the first team. Tom Cleverley and Anderson both failed to stake a claim as United's new creator, and Herrera was supposed to be the next contender. I suppose now we will never know.

Fellaini, on the other hand, can expect to start games for Manchester United should his signing go through. Although not the most graceful player on the planet, he is a handful and more incisive than expected for somebody of his sizable frame. He is a fixture in the Belgian national team and would offer United something they don't really have at the moment: a midfielder with guts.

- Report: United close in on Fellaini

A word on the Liverpool defeat

It is all too easy to get despondent because other clubs have signed shinier players in the transfer window. However, Manchester United still have a championship-winning squad and several players who are growing towards the best years of their careers.

Similarly gloomy conclusions were being drawn at the same stage last season when United conceded two to newly promoted Southampton and lost the opening game to Everton. Losing to Liverpool is not the end of the world; this opening round of games was always going to be trying.

In the fixtures away to Swansea and Liverpool and at home to Chelsea, United obtained only four points. The same was also true last season, when they drew at Swansea and lost against Chelsea at Old Trafford. Therefore, this term United have accumulated the same number of points from the identical fixtures as they did last year. If this trend continues, of course, they will finish the season as champions.

This does not detract from the fact that United did not play fluently at Anfield and probably deserved to lose the game. Certainly, there are a number of improvements that can be made. However, it is far too early to write off the season or David Moyes' credentials as a manager. If United win and score abundantly against Crystal Palace next week, things will be back on track.

Follow Mark on www.twitter.com/markjpayne

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