Manchester United’s exit from the UEFA Champions League and likely omission from the top four has led to many calls for drastic changes to be made to the squad. A complete overhaul of the playing staff will need to be supported by the club investing some serious finance to acquire some of Europe’s most wanted players. The clubs expanding commercial sector will be expected to provide the backbone of this investment and this may lead to greater internal pressure on the teams fortunes.
The clubs commercial revenue has, for a long while, been driven by the clubs success on the pitch. However, the revenue generated through the Manchester United brand now has to be invested in securing future on-field success. If, as expected, United do invest some serious money into the playing squad at the end of this season, it could be a make or break transfer window for the club. When a modern day club spends money on such a level it demands instant success.
United have, of course, consistently made big money signings who are expected to walk into the first-team and create success. Players such as Rio Ferdinand, Dimitar Berbatov and Robin van Persie have been senior players who were bought at high prices to produce instant results. So these types of players have been brought in by Manchester United over the years, but not to the level we are expecting to see this summer. If the manager brings a number of established, expensive players to Old Trafford the amount of pressure on the team will be immense.
What then will be the impact of this new direction in the transfer market? There is potential for success, of course. With the addition of a midfield general such as Toni Kroos, a player United have been continuously linked with, and a few new defenders, the United squad could be transformed. A good start to the season and the issues regarding the lack of quality in the squad this season would be largely forgotten.
Where there is potential for success, however, there is often potential for failure. Should United invest a huge amount of money in extortionate transfer fees for a group of established players who fail to gel immediately, the club will be in turmoil. Unlike their wealthy neighbours, United do not have Middle Eastern owners who can spend a seemingly unlimited amount on transfer fees. At the moment, investing serious money generated by commercial revenue into the playing staff seems to be everyone’s answer to the clubs problems. If this rather obvious tactic fails, the club may be exposed by a transfer market gamble which could set them back for a long period of time.
There could also be further long-term issues created by a more aggressive transfer policy. The acquisition of younger players who require time to grow may be put on the back-burner. There are many examples of this type of acquisition, perhaps most importantly United legend Ronaldo, who was bought young and given the time to grow. The demand for instant success based on a huge investment by the club may lead to a break from this policy as that growing time becomes increasingly limited. Investing in the here and now is an expensive game and United may lose potential stars if they expose them to too much instant pressure.
The club will have to listen to the manager and develop a plan to deal with this transfer market in a sensible and professional manner, something which was completely lacking in the previous summer transfer window. Spending money doesn’t guarantee success but it does guarantee pressure, so Moyes has to act wisely, knowing the more money he spends, the more pressure he will face.
By Alex Porter
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