Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Two Good, Two Bad: Manchester United signings post Fergie

Today’s installment of Two Good, Two Bad will see us take a look at Manchester United and the signings they’ve made.

Two Good, Two Bad – How does it work?

The premise of Two Good, Two Bad will see the author pick a sport and then select a subtopic such as a team, a league, player or country.

We will then select two of the best and two of the worst examples from over the course of our lifetime – epic or horrendous moments in time we remember for all the right or wrong reasons.

Today, I’m continuing the series with Manchester United’s post Sir Alex Ferguson era – in particular, the signings made.

The Best Manchester United signings

Aaron Wan-Bissaka

To be honest, this was obvious. Aaron Wan-Bissaka was signed for a fee in the region of £50m from Crystal Palace having impressed for the Eagles. In the last nine months or so, he’s made that right-back position his own.

As far as I’m concerned, there aren’t many better right backs in the world right now than Aaron Wan-Bissaka. He’s a shoe in for every England squad right now, but will fight for his spot in the team with Liverpool’s Trent Alexander-Arnold.

For United, the position is very much his own. There were some concerns that he didn’t fit the modern day blueprint for a full-back with his lack of attacking intent, but he has shown this season that he does have that ability.

His strength is undoubtedly his defensive ability though. For me, there isn’t a better defensive full-back in the league than Wan-Bissaka. I can see him being at United for years to come and cementing his place as a club legend.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic

Now, hear me out on this one. Zlatan Ibrahovic signed for Manchester United on an initial one year deal and immediately made an impact – both on and off the field.

In the first week following his signature, Manchester United made £76m in shirt sales from Ibrahimovic alone. IN ONE WEEK. United didn’t even spend any money on him either, picking him up on a free transfer.

To add to that, Ibra scored 28 goals in 46 appearances for the club. In his two years with the club, he managed to add both the League Cup trophy and Europa League trophy to his already magnificent trophy cabinet.

He came, he saw, he conquered – and he brought in an absolute f**k ton of money simply through his sheer presence. After that, he left Manchester and went to the MLS – where he also conquered.

Whichever way you look at it, signing Zlatan Ibrahimovic was the smartest thing Manchester United have done, both from a commercial perspective and a football perspective, in years. That’s why he’s on this list.

The Worst signings

Alexis Sanchez

Do I even need to justify this? Such is his current status at Manchester United, the club are currently paying a huge chunk of his quite frankly ludicrous £400k per week to play for another club.

When Sanchez was brought in, it looked as though United had pulled off the deal of the century. They hadn’t paid a fee for him at all, instead they sent Henrikh Mkhitaryan in the other direction as compensation – it looked brilliant.

The only iffy part of the deal was his rather large wages, but United fans didn’t care about that – so long as he replicated the form he managed at Arsenal which saw him score 80 goals and provide 45 assists for the Gunners in 166 games.

Obviously, that didn’t happen. Despite having been there for over two years, Sanchez has five goals and nine assists in 45 games for the Red Devils – which is nowhere near good enough.

His value according to transfermarkt.com is now just £18m as opposed to the £63m it was at when he signed for United. Talk about depreciating assets…

Alas, the one positive to come from his time at Manchester United is that he has inadvertently prompted a shake up in transfer strategy. United seem to be moving away from the big name expensive signings and moving towards investing in young stars – which worked so well for Sir Alex Ferguson.

Memphis Depay

The Dutch star Memphis Depay signed for Manchester United in summer 2015. He was bought by his compatriot, Louis Van Gaal, who spoke at length about the quality Depay possessed.

While he did show glimpses of that in the time he was at Manchester United, he never showed quite enough to justify a £31m fee. Although there have most definitely been worse at United than Depay, it was the fact that he promised so much and delivered so little that puts him on this list.

I was a big fan of Depay before he joined United. I’d seen him play once or twice before during his time at PSV and he looked incredible. All-in-all, he played 53 times for United, scoring just seven goals and registering six assists in all competitions.

After a season and a half, he departed Old Trafford for £16m to join Lyon, where he still plays today. Since joining Lyon, he has realised his true potential and looked the player we all thought he could have been when he signed for Manchester United.

Currently, he has a transfer value of £50m according to TransferMarkt. It’s such a shame things didn’t work out for him at United, he could have been the next Cristiano Ronaldo if he had managed to find his form at United.

His place on this list, as I said, is simply just because of how disappointed I was in his in his production. He had so much potential but, for one reason or another, just couldn’t seem to realise it at United. Maybe he made the move too early.

For more like this, visit the dedicated opinions page here. Meanwhile, follow us on Twitter for more coverage of United.

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