Manchester United’s first competitive game of the David Moyes era is just over a week away and yet the squad that he will take to face Wigan at Wembley is smothered in Sir Alex Ferguson’s fingerprints.
The only new players to have arrived at Old Trafford this summer are Wilfried Zaha, whose purchase was signed off by Ferguson in January, and young Uruguayan defender Guillermo Varela.
Rumours linking the champions – who are third favourites to retain their title at 5/2 – with Thiago Alcantara, Cesc Fabregas, Leighton Baines, Marouane Fellaini and others have lingered for months but progress in those pursuits has been non-existent.
Wayne Rooney’s apparent desire to leave for Chelsea heightens the negativity, particularly as the odds deem that transfer more plausible at 4/6 than a Reds swoop for Fabregas at 6/4 or even a lower profile figure like Fellaini at 10/11.
It is arguable that, having finished first so convincingly last season, there is no urgency to add to the squad. However, no matter how successful a team have been, persistent evolution is vital. Indeed, a relish for replenishment was one of Sir Alex’s greatest gifts.
In showing intent yet failing to deliver, Manchester United unwittingly transmit a message to fans, rivals and possibly even their own players that their new manager lacks the pulling power to woo a world-class player.
But while Moyes stands to suffer most if the side isn’t adequately restocked, it won’t truly be his fault. Ferguson’s retirement was announced almost three months ago and the owners would have known even earlier, so they should have lined a statement signing up for when Moyes started work.
Manchester City performed that service for Manuel Pellegrini, recruiting Fernandinho and Jesus Navas before the Chilean’s appointment was confirmed and, consequently they are rated more likely to win the Premier League at 9/4.
The departure of chief executive David Gill is perhaps the main reason behind a traumatic transfer window, particularly as he was replaced in house by Ed Woodward rather than by an experienced market operator.
A similar situation surfaced at the Etihad Stadium last year after Brian Marwood was put in charge of buying following Garry Cook’s abrupt exit. That led to a fallout with Roberto Mancini over a lack of signings, and ultimately to Premier League dethronement.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.