The failure of Manchester United to land Benfica teenager Renato Sanches has been laid squarely at the feet of chief executive Ed Woodward by the club’s fans.
Sanches has instead signed for Bayern Munich for £35m plus add-ons.
United had reportedly been in ‘advanced talks’ to sign the promising midfielder as far back as the January transfer window and saw themselves as favourites for his signature according to the Manchester Evening News.
Woodward has been held accountable by venting United fans on twitter, the same paper report, having previously been held accountable for the club’s dawdling and often unsuccessful pursuit of various targets in recent years.
Ed Woodward single handedly is making MUFC a joke, one of the biggest clubs in the world made to look foolish time and time again .
— داؤد (@IamDaud_) May 10, 2016
In 2013/14 the Reds had seemed in pole position to acquire both Thiago Alcantara and Cesc Fabregas only to be outstripped by Bayern and Chelsea, while Ander Herrera eventually arrived a season later than expected.
Yet, blaming the man who more than doubled the club’s commercial revenue between 2005 and 2012 for Sanches moving to Bavaria is harsh.
Not only are Bayern irrevocably ensconced among the top-four teams in the Bundesliga (the top one) and seem irremovably affixed among the leading three teams on the continent, reaching at least the semi-finals in five of the last six Champions Leagues.
United can offer neither such guarantees. Nor can they dangle the carrot of a greater role at a young age to their erstwhile target.
For every Marcus Rashford and Timothy Fosu-Mensah, Bayern can point to a Kinsgley Coman (19), David Alaba (a first-XI regular since 19), or Joshua Kimmich (30 starts this term having begun it as a 20-year-old).
Sanches has already tasted football at the highest club level after playing his way straight into the Benfica first team and he’s one draw away from winning the Primeria Liga at the first attempt with the Estadio da Luz side.
Go easy on Woodward, because convincing the Portuguese starlet that the Reds represented the ceiling of opportunity available to him was a task for a devil himself.
United are 7/20 to best Bournemouth in their final match of the 2015/16 Premier League, odds they will need to land to have any chance of securing a 11/2-rated top-four finish at Manchester City’s expense.