Moroccan defender en-route to Old Trafford? Will the rot stop at United this summer?

Manchester United have once again been linked to AS Roma’s Moroccan central defender Mehdi Benatia, a player who was linked with Manchester City earlier this summer and more recently Chelsea along with United. AS Roma director Walter Sabatini recently spoke about the availability of the Moroccan defender, who was considered by many as the best defender in Serie A last season, but for €61 million, which is around £50 million. Whether that was just the director posturing remains to be seen as the player has been linked with a £30 million move since Sabatini’s comments.

This evening, Jim White of Sky Sports News tweeted that he was hearing that Benatia was heading to Manchester United. Now, Sky Sports are normally credible and ever since that “stay tuned after the break for important transfer news for Manchester United” during the summer 2010 saga involving Wesley Sneijder, of which nothing, even to this day has been reported on Sky Sports News since that advert break, I am sure they will have learned a lesson to check sources properly. In this day and age, the amount of so-called experts on Twitter make transfer windows a problem. I mean some of the ITK’s are laughable suggesting that have info on nearly every deal, which would be an impossibility, unless they were making it all up, as the majority do. Some will take an educated guess, which anyone can do, so it is nothing special.



Sky Sports have reported this evening that Benatia is en-route to Manchester for talks on signing for the Old Trafford club. Sky also suggest that talks are “reportedly continuing between the two clubs to agree terms on a deal” for Benatia. With the fact that United do need defensive additions this summer, which has been seen during the 2-1 defeat to Swansea City at Old Trafford on Saturday, which also ended United’s 42 year record of not losing an opening day fixture, which I guess is just another record which has been broken at the club. There is clearly lots of work to do in order to get Old Trafford back to the fortress it once was. An away trip to Sunderland next Sunday will be a daunting prospect, especially with the fact that Gus Poyet’s side beat United on penalties in the semi-final of the Capital One Cup last season, albeit on penalties.

United gave Tyler Blackett his full debut for the club today and it showed that there is promise for the future, but right now it was going to be tough if no new additions were heading to the club this summer. Blackett will learn a lot more alongside proven talent, which will benefit the player and the club for the future, but he is a viable option should United need to bring in players to help should another injury crisis hit. On Saturday, the void left by Rio Ferdinand, Nemanja Vidic and Patrice Evra was visible and it was evident that United did not have the strength in-depth available should they need it, which I am sure they will.

Executive vice chairman Ed Woodward has stated that Louis van Gaal has no fixed budget, meaning that he can spend what he feels he needs to in order to get the club back to full strength. A similar thing was said last summer and we ended up with Marouane Fellaini, who was a deadline day panic buy. Juan Mata arrived in the following January, which raised spirits that United could still attract top talent and with a summer of promises and the arrival of Ander Herrera and Luke Shaw at the end of June, many supporters thought that this was going to be a fruitful summer. Woodward also told the supporters in an interview in Los Angeles at the start of the pre-season tour of the United States of America that the club could afford to spend large transfer fees on players and the now famous “watch this space” comment – we are still watching Ed!

Now that United have intimated that they have no fixed budget, can spend large fees on players and the fact that there is now a desperation to bring in players, I am sure many clubs will raise transfer fees for players, as United would have to pay the going rate. I have never been one for club politics, as that is not what interests me, but right now I am starting to see why the Glazers are hated by many. Obviously I do know the reason and have done for nearly 10 years, but now I am actually looking at the club politics and to me, everything we have been told over the years does seem to be adding up. Sir Alex Ferguson often said “no value in the market” and “I am happy with my squad”. Last season we had the dithering with targets ending up paying over the odds for a player that United could have signed for nearly £4 million less earlier in the window.


I do not know what is actually happening at the club, but you can see it is causing detrimental effects on the club. Last season United finished seventh, missing out on the UEFA Champions League, a competition they have played in for 19 consecutive seasons. They also missed out on the UEFA Europa League meaning no European football at Old Trafford whatsoever this season. Last season, there were players needed in the midfield area, which are still needed today and with Rio Ferdinand, Nemanja Vidic and Patrice Evra not getting any younger, replacements were needed as the current crop of players, Phil Jones, Chris Smalling and Jonny Evans we not ready to just step in and replace experienced defenders. Of course all three players are experienced, but not to the level required at Manchester United.

The old saying “you have to speculate to accumulate” is relevant at this moment in time. If the elite players, which are needed to put United back in the driving seat in the Barclays Premier League are not sought, signed, sealed and delivered, you can kiss goodbye to the many lucrative sponsorship deals the club have. We all know that achieving UEFA Champions League football is imperative in the new Adidas deal, and with the Glazers, or at least half of the siblings that now own the club are looking to take as much cash out of the club as they can, this can be seen with the latest share deal that was made available a few weeks ago. It is time to reinforce the mere reason the business of the club is there, the football team. If the right quality is not brought in within the next fortnight, then slowly the clubs position will start to fall. I do not think relegation is looming, not yet anyway, but finishing seventh last season could be the start of the problems.

Worst case scenario; United do not make any more signings for whatever reason, they continue the season with the players they currently have, which are good players, but the quality is not balanced in the side at this moment in time. United could continue their decline in the Barclays Premier League, maybe finish tenth this season, then each season quality is not sought, the decline will continue to happen. Obviously the top-level quality of players may still be available to the club right now, but at some stage, the clubs level will have to drop slightly. Obviously this is me thinking about this decline too much, but the more I think about it, it is the only thing that could happen if the lack of quality in the side continues into the rest of this season and into next summer. Every dog has its day, I just hope that this is not Manchester United’s end of days…


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