The 2019 summer transfer window has finally come to a close for Premier League teams. After months and months of constant speculation, things were all wrapped up on deadline day. Some teams made the most of the time, while others failed to improve their squads.
One of the clubs that had a poor off-season was Manchester United, who have failed to deliver on a number of promises made by the front office. It was supposed to be a rebuild that made the Red Devils elite once again, but they arguably regressed instead. Sadly, the fanbase have become used to this, as it was yet another disappointing transfer window at Old Trafford.
Weakening parts of the squad
Shockingly, United have managed to weaken most areas of the squad.
The defence has obviously been improved. Aaron Wan-Bissaka has come in from Crystal Palace and immediately walked into the first team, fixing United’s long term problems at the right back position.
He was later joined by Leicester City and England centre-back Harry Maguire, who was signed for a record breaking transfer fee for a defender. With those two joining up with Luke Shaw and Victor Lindelof, the backline at Old Trafford has become a strong point once again.
However, that was the only part of the team that got markedly better. The attacking half of the pitch received a boost when former Swansea City starlet Daniel James joined United, but he’s not quite the proven product just yet. The 21 year old needs to grow, so it will be a year or two before he can really make an impact. The frontline then lost a crucial cog in the system on deadline day, as last season's second-top scorer Romelu Lukaku was sold to Serie A side Inter Milan.
Now, United have to rely on unproven quantities. Marcus Rashford seems set to shoulder the most responsibility, as he will likely be the one starting up top. Many have been clamouring for him to play centrally, and he’ll get to do that on a consistent basis this upcoming season. Rashford will have a lot to prove, as he’s never scored more than ten goals in a Premier League campaign, and isn’t the most clinical finisher just yet.
He won’t be the only one under pressure. Anthony Martial has shown glimpses of quality during his United tenure, but he’s never quite delivered on a consistent basis. Alexis Sanchez has struggled ever since joining from Arsenal, and this season will be his last chance to impress at Old Trafford. The same can be said for Jesse Lingard, who needs to show maturity both on and off the field considering he is no longer a youngster.
At least that area wasn’t as badly hampered as the midfield, which currently looks to be in disarray. United do have one of the best on the planet in Paul Pogba, but that’s it. After no replacements were found for the departing Marouane Fellaini and Ander Herrera, the middle of the park looks especially weak.
Pogba will likely play alongside Nemanja Matic, which is problematic due to the Serb's lack of speed and agility on the ball. He’s aged rapidly, and looks like a shadow of his past self.
It’s not been such a steep decline for Juan Mata, who never really had much raw pace to begin with. However, he’s still not nearly quick enough to fit in with a high pressing gameplan, so the diminutive Spaniard can’t be relied upon on a weekly basis.
Then there’s Fred and Andreas Peirera, who can be superb on their day, but those days don’t happen often enough at this point. There’s a chance one of the two will be much improved after having time to settle, but there’s a bigger chance their respective growth simply stagnates.
Scott McTominay has effectively become the second best central midfielder at the club. The Scotsman has his moments and is definitely one for the future, but he’s much better suited to the role of a squad player at the moment. Instead, he’ll be starting consistently, and will be under immense pressure to make the jump up in quality right away. If that doesn’t happen, the problems will only continue to mount for United.
Keeping the deadwood
The most frustrating thing about this window for most United fans will be the fact that the deadwood in the squad is staying for yet another season. Only one sale was made during the summer, with Romelu Lukaku’s transfer to Inter Milan being the sole departure. Considering how many players at club simply don't seem good enough, that could be problematic.
Fans were given hope that things would be different under new boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, especially after some of the comments he made over the course of the season.
“There is a strong chance you’ve seen some of these players play their last game for the club,” said the Norwegian following the loss to Cardiff City at the end of the campaign.
“I’m going to be successful here, and there are players who won't be part of that,” said Solskjaer after United were smashed 4-0 by Everton.
However, those words are yet to come into fruition.
The one deadline day move United were linked with involved Marcos Rojo, as reports came out that the Argentine could make a late jump over to Everton. However, the two clubs could not agree on a transfer fee, keeping Rojo at Old Trafford for the time being. The centre-back has had plenty of injury problems during his time, and even when he can get on the field, he’s incredibly error prone.
Then there’s the pairing of Phil Jones and Chris Smalling, who have both managed to survive yet another transfer window. They’ve failed to meet the standards set for them when they each joined the club, but they are still the backup pairing Solskjaer will have to turn to in times of need.
Even Matteo Darmian, who only featured in six league games last season, and has been linked to a move away for years now, is still at the club.
Although Premier League teams can no longer purchase players, the transfer window remains open for the rest of Europe. Some foreign clubs could potentially come in to take these players, but it’s still more likely that none of the deadwood will be going anywhere anytime soon.
Off on the wrong foot
The start of a new season usually brings a fresh sense of hope and optimism, but that is no longer the case in the United fanbase after this discouraging transfer window. Fans are already nervous about the year ahead, and genuinely worried that the Red Devils could fall outside the top six. Now, it’s on Solskjaer and the players he has to turn things around, and show fans that United are on the right track after all.