Hours. That’s how long the goodwill towards Ed Woodward, or what little of it there even was, lasted after he sealed the signing of Bruno Fernandes the day before deadline day.
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The Fernandes deal, although long in the making, appears on the surface at least to be the sort of quality signing that United fans have been crying out for.
But just like that, it was all taken away from the United fans as reports emerged on the morning of deadline day that the club was looking at Josh King in a bid to solve their striking problems.
King is a former United striker, he was in the reserves when a young Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was beginning to cut his teeth in management and the pair share an agent.
By all accounts Solskjaer is a huge fan of his compatriot and reportedly once told King after a match that he would one day bring him back to Old Trafford.
But that day was not January deadline day after United cooled their jets on the King signing and turned their focus to back-up option Odion Ighalo.
However. the fact that they were even interested in signing King in the first place is remarkable.
oshua King of Bournemouth in the home dressing room before the Premier League match between AFC Bournemouth and Burnley
Image credit: Getty Images
King is a fine footballer, a very good player for Bournemouth and perhaps capable of playing a little bit higher, but not at the level United are aiming for.
In the past a club like United would have multiple transfer targets, each fulfilling a different need but all being viable if one or more of their first-choice options were not available.
Of course the injury to Marcus Rashford has accelerated the club’s need for goals but they sold Romelu Lukaku in the summer without replacing them.
Putting your faith in Rashford is one thing but expected him to carry the goalscoring burden by himself is utterly absurd.
The best teams share the goals around, and United have put too much pressure on Rashford since the summer, it led to him playing through injury and it eventually led to him having to take a break to get himself fit.
King has scored three goals this season, how was that supposed to help Rashford? In all reality all that would have happened is he would have become another attacking option who sadly wasn’t quite good enough.
Plus at 28-year-old what difference is there between Solskjaer signing him and Jose Mourinho wanting Ivan Perisic or Willian?
It is worth pointing out amidst all of this discussion about King just how many strikers United have targeted since Rashford got injured, it’s absurd.
Image credit: Getty Images
Edinson Cavani, Odion Ighalo, Dries Mertens, Teemu Pukki, Islam Slimani, Salomon Rondon, Danny Ings, Ighalo and King have all been linked to United over the past couple of weeks. Woodward appears to be like a kid that in a candy store who has stolen their parents’ wallets. More choice and money than he can possibly know what to do which in turn results in the sort of slap-dash approach that we can see now.
It is the inherent problem that comes when one man is responsible for both the commercial and footballing sides of the business when he is an expert in one of those things and a novice for the other.
Losing David Gill at the same time of Sir Alex Ferguson wasn’t talked about enough at the time but it’s clear now retrospectively just how special he was as a negotiator.
In the early days of the new era big names were still linked to United (see Toni Kroos, Cesc Fabregas etc) and some (see Angel Di Maria and Pogba) actually came.
Manchester United former chief executive David Gill with Sir Alex Ferguson (R)
Image credit: Reuters
They could get by on the money they could offer and the lure of being Manchester United but that is no longer happening as much.
In the past United needing a striker would have brought the agents of the best in the world out of the woodwork but now it’s an assorted mis-match of whatever Woodward pulled out of the Pick N’ Mix.
It didn't matter if it was King or Ighalo, the point still stands, United are a rudderless ship and their attempts to paper over the cracks in the hull are pathetic at best.
And if you have a target in mind to really right the ship, such as say Erling Braut Haaland, and you can get him at an outrageous price then do everything in your power to close that deal.
Image credit: Getty Images
He is the spectre that looms large over this whole sorry affair. Because now the worry for United will be that sensible young stars like Haaland will look at clubs like Borussia Dortmund as the perfect stepping stone until they go to the biggest clubs in the world like Barcelona, Real Madrid, Juventus or… Liverpool.
It’s a tough reality for a lot of fans but it’s the one they find themselves in, another window has gone by and yet again United have failed to make the signing they need more than anything.
An experienced and respected Director of Football is needed to take the power away from Woodward and focus on properly rebuilding the club.
Until that appointment is made United will continue to stumble along, sometimes getting a good deal, more often than not getting taking for a ride while the rest of the world laughs.