Sir Bobby Charlton welcomed David Moyes as a "genuine Manchester United man" upon the Scot's appointment last May. Hailed as a man cut from the same cloth as Sir Alex Ferguson, if Moyes didn't breed confidence through his extensive managerial CV or major accolades, his reputation at Everton suggested he was equipped with the tools to manage a period of unprecedented transition at Old Trafford.
Instead, in leading United through a transfer window lacking direction and structure, Moyes has spearheaded the most embarrassing episode in the club's history for over a quarter of a century. Not since the club's damaging drinking culture in the mid-80s has United's reputation been drowned to such a grave extent.
Under the reign of Ferguson and David Gill, United had earned a potent, ruthless and uncompromising status in the transfer market which had them among the shrewdest operators around. After a window during which they have provided no evidence of those characteristics they now represent an organisation approaching an amateurish guise.
Even the successful pursuit of Marouane Fellaini was haphazard at best. Instead of matching Fellaini's release clause of £23.5m prior to the 31 July cut-off, United waited until the final moments of the window to secure a deal of £27m for the Belgian midfielder. All before the debate over whether the 6ft 4 ½ in 25 year old is suitable for an already stagnant United midfield even begins.
The likely explanation behind United's desperation to sign Fellaini is down to the failure to secure other targets, with the previous buy-out clause expiring after other avenues had proved less than fruitful, but again this raises questions over those original targets.
Misled or misunderstood, United were led to believe both Thiago Alcantara and Cesc Fabregas could be persuaded to swap Barcelona for the Premier League. While Alcantara only had eyes for Pep Guardiola at Bayern Munich, Fabregas' heart remains on playing for the Catalans. United's misinformed approach for the pair looked uncoordinated.
However, attempts to sign Ander Herrera from Athletic Bilbao enter entirely different realms of parody and incompetence. The move smacks of a lack of preparation and ended with an incident which will haunt the United hierarchy.
Seemingly ignorant to the long drawn-out process of which accompanied Javi Martinez's move to Bayern Munich 12 months previous, United made an official offer last week for Herrera, which failed to match the player's release clause. Talks continued across the weekend and into the final 24 hours of the window, with a deal pulled as United eventually baulked at the asking price.
Reports have since emerged that imposters posing as United officials arrived at LFP headquarters with the intention of paying the release clause, piling further embarrassment on an episode which emphatically enters the club's hall of shame. As for a loan deal for Fabio Coentrao, United failed to submit the paperwork on time; administrative failure.
Moyes has had his excuses for a deadline day collapse in place for some months. "The most difficult window" the 51 year old said this summer would be after he took over from Ferguson. Correct he might be, but he is unable to hide behind a lack of time or preparation. Officially starting work on 1 July he might have, the reality is Moyes' plans at United started weeks before - the assembling of his backroom team for example.
Meetings with executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward and discussions over transfer targets will not have been far behind. Bids for Leighton Baines and Fabregas came before any genuine assessment of the United squad so while their method appeared mad, forethought will have accompanied it. An even more baffling thought for United followers.
The failure across the last two months is no doubt accentuated by an uncertain start in the Premier League and the success of their closest rivals. Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur have among them all made droves of significant additions in order to close the gap, or even breach it.
The true and fair results of this summer will be represented next May after Moyes' first full season in charge but to recovery from a substantial bout of ineptitude at Old Trafford, he will be required to pull irons out of the fire.
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