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Fear and Loathing in Manchester

“Transfer news this week sucks.”

Yes, friend. I know. I have high hopes for those two fortnights in January where I can relive the summer excitement of hitting refresh roughly 4,000 times a day to find out if Ibrahimovic’s toenail will prevent him from moving to the premier league.

Fans of the beautiful game have grown accustomed to fireworks at the turn of every new year.

Ever since the Chelsea-Liverpool-Newcastle-Ajax carousel that saw unprecedented amounts of cash and star power shift the footballing world on its axis, fans are hungry for more, and believe anything is possible in January.

Rumors of Lionel Messi’s departure are even running rampant.

First Leo was going to City, because his countrymen play there, and Sheikh Mansour has deep pockets.

Then, after careful analysis of his Instagram activity and his connection to a woman named Daniella Semann (google her, you won’t regret it) Messi was ‘destined’ for Chelsea.

Turns out, after brass tax Manchester United are the only club that can afford him, but he won’t end up at Old Trafford. It has become painfully obvious that every quote of uncertainty, the training ground no shows, and nights reportedly mourning his inferiority to Cristiano Ronaldo are all a ploy to get one, Luis Enrique, current/interim/dead man walking manager at FC Barcelona fired. Bummer.

Hype aside, United is happy to be at the center transfer talks once again, thanks to their new £750million deal with Adidas.

The Red Devils have already splashed the cash in extravagant, if not inefficient ways. Louis Van Gaal has managed to bring in a world class attack force, the best attacking midfielder alive and enough makeshift and up-and-coming defenders to bluff his way through a season.

But after their comprehensive defeat at the hands of Southhampton, Saints sit directly ahead of them in the premier league. An injection of elite talent or (even better) a shrewd poach could be the deciding factor in the fight for Europe.

United has been linked with a massive sweep for French international Paul Pogba, who will eventually be doing Zidane-Henry things with Karim Benzema. However, careful analysis shows that he’d prefer to go to Chelsea, who can’t afford him.

They damn well should at least sign Mats Hummels, who willed Germany through their biggest moments of adversity in Brazil, but Louis Van Gaal has been twiddling his thumbs wondering if the greatest defender on the market will fit into his (incredibly and detrimentally) rigid system.

But really, its very simple. United need not make massive swoops to ensure their place in Europe next year.

Southhampton talisman and central midfielder Morgan Schneiderlin fills the most gaping gap in this United XI, and he’s available at a reasonable price. The premier league vet does work on defense, something United’s players are unfamiliar with unless they are cast in unfamiliar roles (see Valencia, Antonin). More importantly, he takes the most talented player from his most direct competitor.

United isn’t winning this campaign. Third place is right where they hope they wind up. Buying Schneiderlin would go a long way in their quest for Europe. It would even be a boon if Arsenal, Tottenham or Liverpool forked over the £20-£25 mil instead.

What’s the likelihood of that, though? The club that is trying to bring in Wesley Sneijder would certainly match his wages, and Schneiderlin, who will soon make up the greatest international midfield in a post-Spain world with the aforementioned Pogba, has to view that as a lateral move.

After all, they did just kick United’s ass, and have a two point lead in the table with well over half the season in the books.

Maybe LVG can put idealism to the side for a hot minute and pay a paltry £20 mil to sign up for the 2015-2016 Champions League campaign, but no one knows what is going on inside that man’s head.

Back to reality and tangible measures of excitement: City signed Ivorian international and hot new premier league commodity (straight from world beaters Swansea) Wilfried Bony to add to their rotation of 48 strikers. That has to count for something.

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