Manchester United are damned if they do, damned if they don’t

If there’s one thing Ed Woodward and Matt Judge did a fantastic job of this summer it was destroying all the goodwill that had been built up at the end of last season.

Breakout years from Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford. Teenager Mason Greenwood replacing Romelu Lukaku and scoring 18 goals. Finishing third in the league with a paper-thin squad and reaching three cup semifinals, showing that Manchester United could compete on all fronts.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer came in with a three year rebuilding plan, and by all accounts year one couldn’t have gone any better.

Now it was time for year two. Supplement the existing pieces and fill in some holes. United would be bringing in Jadon Sancho — something that everyone knew would happen as far back as last September. When Solskjaer needed the reinforcements of Bruno Fernandes in January, the board delivered. Surely they’d deliver again this summer.

Yet here we are, over a week into the season, mere days away from the transfer window shutting, and Jadon Sancho still isn’t here. In fact, only one new player is here. It’s unacceptable.

It’s reasonable that fans are hysterical right now, but many fans were acting just as hysterically on August 15th when the transfer window had been open for just two weeks, already assuming United wouldn’t sign anyone — a naive assumption.

With United not having a preseason, what difference does it make if they sign someone on August 15th or August 28th? Getting the new signings in by the first game of the season was a priority. If they didn’t get them in time, there’s a level of failure to that, but all that mattered was that they were signed before October 5th.

I did believe United would get it done before the season started. Some fans believed that “United won’t sign anyone because Woodward never gets anything done,” but the recent history says completely otherwise.

Woodward has made plenty of mistakes in his job — mistakes that United are still paying for. In fact, he’s made enough mistakes that he shouldn’t even hold his job anymore. But he does, and that’s probably not going to change because he makes the Glazers a ton of money. So in that regard, all we can hope for is that he’s learned from his mistakes and doesn’t repeat them.

It had started to look like he has. Earlier in the summer, I wrote about how over the past four years Woodward has gotten United’s business done on time. Yes, the big deals like Paul Pogba, Romelu Lukaku, and Harry Maguire dragged on all summer, but in the meantime Eric Bailly, Zlatan Ibrahimović, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Victor Lindelöf, Nemanja Matić, Fred*, Diogo Dalot*, Daniel James, and Aaron Wan-Bissaka were all signed before preseason training began. The last player Woodward had signed after the season already began was Anthony Martial in 2015.

There was good logical reason to believe that trend would continue this year. And now, I must say to Ed Woodward: thank you for making me…

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