“I think what they lack is experience… what is surprising is that someone wants to do a deal and only starts the process 12 hours before. It’s the inexperience of the new people in charge. We have worked with them [United] before, with Peter Kenyon and David Gill and with Sir Alex Ferguson.”
Following the failure of David de Gea to seal a move to Real Madrid that appeared to collapse on deadline day due to red tape and bureaucracy, Real Madrid president Florentino Perez has made it clear in no uncertain terms who he blames for the collapse.
“We still have a good relationship with Manchester United, but this is exactly the same as what happened before with Coentrão and Herrera and we thought they would have learned from what happened in the past.”
While not naming him personally, it’s evident who Perez has in mind when directing his accusations of inexperience, with Man Utd executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward the man under fire.
As Perez hinted, this is not the first time Woodward has come under similar scrutiny for failed transfers, and a closer look at the five transfer windows in which he has led on squad acquisitions following the retirement of the highly-regarded CEO David Gill give plenty credence to Perez’s well-founded criticisms:
After assuming the departing David Gill’s responsibilities in February 2013, Woodward’s first transfer window in charge came the following summer.
It was no ordinary one for United, who had to come to terms with the end of the Sir Alex Ferguson era.
With David Moyes appointed as the new manager, Woodward failed to impress, and with Cesc Fabregas, Leighton Baines, Thiago Alcantara, Robert Lewandowksi and even Cristiano Ronaldo all considered targets, only Marouane Fellaini made it through the door at the last minute, for £4m more than they could have paid for him a month earlier.
It got worse for Woodward – a late loan move for Fabio Coentrao could not be completed on time.
Business proved a little savvier in the next window as Moyes and Woodward secured the £37m signing of Juan Mata from Chelsea.
However their failure to strengthen other key areas of the team that Moyes had highlighted saw the former Everton boss sacked just three months later – after less than a year in the job.
It was a busy summer for Woodward and United, with Louis van Gaal now running the show. Falcao arriving on loan was seen as a coup for the club – his form suggested otherwise.
Luke Shaw, Marcos Rojo and Daley Blind also signed for big money deals.
Woodward’s Ander Herrera-based blushes from a failed deal a year previous were at least resolved after finally agreeing deal with Bilbao, but the big transfer on everyone’s lips that summer was the destination of Gareth Bale.
The Welshman chose Real Madrid, leaving United to go for Los Blancos reject Angel Di Maria for a British record £59m. Less than a year later, United couldn’t wait to sell him, doing so at a loss of around £15m when PSG came to his rescue.
It was a relatively quiet January for the club, but the free transfer arrival of keeper Victor Valdes was originally seen as a smart signing.
Instead, it only served to set the wheels in motion for David de Gea exit rumours, while just a few months later Van Gaal admitted that he wanted rid of Valdes, citing a disagreement over his attitude.
While it remains to be seen whether the £35m signing of Anthony Martial will prove to be a masterstroke or act of lunacy, there can be little doubt that Woodward undid what good work he’d done on the deals for Bastian Schweinsteiger, Matteo Darmian and Memphis Depay by being publically-snubbed by Chelsea newboy Pedro, and used as a contract negotiation pawn by Sergio Ramos.
Add to the mix-up over David De Gea’s failed moved, and those United fans starting to wonder about Woodward’s competence certainly have strong grounds for concern.