Manchester United’s mad scramble for a striker in the last 24 hours of the transfer window underlines the club’s dire need for a director of football.
The club were reportedly in discussions over the transfer of a number of players such as Bournemouth’s Joshua King and Southampton’s Danny Ings before finally landing the services of former Watford man Odion Ighalo at the 11th hour.
Fans, pundits and members of the press were left baffled as to why a proper shortlist hadn’t been drawn up and researched weeks ago – something a director of football would be sure to have done.
The Red Devils had known since August that a new striker would be needed after selling Romelu Lukaku to Inter Milan.
Clearly the first choice was Norwegian starlet Erling Braut Haaland, who appeared close to joining United before ultimately signing for Borussia Dortmund instead.
That decision, though, was made on December 29th – over a month ago – so even if Haaland was the only name on the shortlist – which would have been strange in itself – there should still have been plenty of time to line up an alternative and avoid the knee-jerk antics that occurred yesterday.
In fairness, that alternative may have been French Under 21 international Jean-Kevin Augustin. He was snapped up by Leeds United earlier this week after ‘Manchester United came to the table far too late and in a far too disorganised way’, as The Athletic reporter David Ornstein noted.
Marcus Rashford’s back injury made the search for a striker more urgent, but that, again, occurred 16 days ago – more than enough time to have lined up a bid for a replacement before now.
Because United left it until the last minute to make a move for the likes of Ings and King, their offers were turned down because the selling clubs were left with no time to find a replacement.
Renowned reporter Sam Pilger amply summed up United’s farcical transfer dealings, saying ‘Selling Romelu Lukaku and looking to replace him 5 months later with Josh King on deadline day doesn’t do much to convince there’s a brilliant transfer masterplan’.
And when executive vice chairman Ed Woodward did finally bag 30-year-old Ighalo, many fans showed their displeasure at the signing.