Today, two blows were dealt to United’s bid to bolster their defence with quality and experience.
The Daily Star reported that Manchester United and Dortmund have failed to agree terms on a deal for German powerhouse Mats Hummels, and Thomas Vermaelen moved ever closer to completing his move to Barcelona. In fact, to call this news a blow is downplaying it a lot, as United’s thin veil of defenders looks more and more exposed the more time goes on.
Losing out on these two long-term targets drags more and more doubt as to whether signings will made in an area way short of players. In fact, the options of players able to improve the side are becoming fewer and fewer the closer to September 1st we get.
Hummels allegedly broke down because the two sides couldn’t agree terms, and it is a line that is becoming second nature to United fans, as the constant failings all seem to be able to be put down to a lack of agreement. It feels as though we aren’t doing enough to convince teams we want these players, maybe offering too little or not putting together a strong enough case. Vermaelen is much of the same. However, in a much less negative manner. Reports claiming Arsenal wanted one of Chris Smalling or Phil Jones in exchange for the Belgian being rejected show a rare case of common sense from Woodward and United; why swap when we’re wanting to add?
There are no two ways about it, we need two centre backs. Jones and Evans are made from varying degrees of glass, there is no way in a month of Sundays they’ll both go a whole season fully fit. That would then leave Smalling and Blackett as our two out-and-out defenders. So who fills in? Michael Carrick or Darren Fletcher? No thank you.
The positive in the situation is Blackett will be given first team football, but that is one in a field of hundreds of negatives (hundreds being a drastic exaggeration). Blackett can’t be expected to carry that work load straight away, Carrick and Fletcher (though admirable cover in the past) aren’t central defenders, if any of the covering 3 get injured (let’s not forget, United have seriously bad luck with defensive injuries) then who plays?
It leaves us in a situation similar to our midfield. Teams know how much we need the strengthen and will therefore charge a pretty penny for whatever average doss they’re trying to sell. Carry on like this and our next option is Ciaran Clark or Mikael Silvestre.
Without being silly, our only seemingly viable option now is Mehdi Benatia or even Ron Vlaar (though that is plucking names out of the air). And if neither arrive, then losing out on de Vrij, Hummels and Vermaelen will turn out to be a big black mark on van Gaal and massive dampener on our season and the excitement being experienced even before we kick off. Quite honestly, any more transfer devastation and it may finish me off. We need to spend and spend big, or we’re certain to fail.