“I’ll have what they’re having” – Why Manchester United should keep a closer eye on Tottenham

by Vincent Ralph

Moussa Dembele’s transfer to Spurs confirms what I’ve thought for a while: Tottenham keep signing players perfect for Manchester United.

By my count it’s four now.  The latest being Dembele and before that, Kyle Walker, Gareth Bale and Luka Modric (before he left for Madrid).

I’m not saying there aren’t better players in the league.  But I am saying there are few in those specific positions that would improve United more.

Ask any United fan where their team is weakest and they’d say fullback, central midfield and left wing.

They’d say Rafael – despite a hugely encouraging Olympics (the final aside) – is still too erratic, an attacker rather than a defender, a mistake waiting to happen.

They’d say Anderson is not the box-to-box player Fergie hoped he’d be, and they’re keeping everything crossed that the fast-improving Tom Cleverley stays fit and Paul Scholes stops ageing all together.

And they’d say the right wing is sorted but the left wing isn’t.  Because Valencia is a machine, and Nani (when he’s on his game) shines on the right but disappears on the left, while Ashley Young drifts inside too much, because even he – the most left of their left wingers – is right-footed.

And yet for £40.6million they could have no weaknesses at all.

That’s how much Spurs paid for Dembele, Modric, Walker and Bale.

Imagine Walker in for Rafael, still as good going forward but a defender who seems to learn from his mistakes rather than repeat them.

Imagine Dembele and Modric running the midfield, the link between a defence that, when fit, is as good as most, and an attack that, on paper at least, is terrifying.

And imagine Bale doing what he does, as Welsh and as left-footed as the man whose number 11 shirt he’d inherit.

Until the signing of Alex Buttner, United fans were concerned with the lack of cover for the not-as-good-as-he-was Patrice Evra.

But Bale’s not a shabby option at left-back, either.

The weekend game against Southampton was a perfect example.  Both of the home team’s goals came as a result of fullback deficiencies, the first with Lambert towering over Rafael, and the second when Evra lost his footing and Schneiderlin headed home.  In fact, it was on the rarest of occasions that either fullback won an aerial dual.

As for midfield – well I can leave that to Alex Ferguson himself, who after the match said his team didn’t start playing until Scholes came on.

So while one match proves nothing, it does when it’s one of many.

And yes, I know Bale turned United down.  And both Smalling and Jones are more than capable fullback options.  And Kagawa has already shown glimpses of what a legend looks like.  But if those four players had joined United rather than Spurs, I don’t think anyone else would stand a chance.

In football, there are countless if-onlys.  And when it comes to spending millions, it would be nice to have the benefit of hindsight before you opened your wallet.  But it’s becoming too regular now for Old Trafford not to notice – Daniel Levy keeps signing the solutions to another club’s problems.

So when the next transfer window opens in January, and the gossip starts about this player or that, United would do well not to sign a footballer at all.

Instead they should do everything they can to get Tottenham’s Head Scout.

8 Responses

  1. Good article & I can’t find anything to disagree with. We were linked heavily with Dembele throughout the summer, Fergie even going to watch him. At the price he was available for & after the superb display he put on last week at OT I’m perplexed why we didn’t go for him. He is absolutely ideal. I’m tired of our pussyfooting with transfers & can only assume the Glazers are still the issue. Ok we got Shinji & RVP but look at how many contracts have been cut with a few quid coming in as well. Surely every red I know & read can’t be wrong. He was the Toure type we needed so badly yet could easily do without Fletcher, Nani & Anderson who would all have more than financed a deal.. Baffling. I still believe we’ll have the title back but Dembele would’ve given us a serious CL shot which now I think is a no hoper.

  2. TommyHarmer says:

    Which goes to show how, despite being rather short on the readies, Spurs continue to compete beyond all expectations. This has to be down to that much-maligned money manager Daniel Levy. Despite a lot of personal problems this year he has gone on doing the business for us, doing his best to iron out all the problems we inevitably run into along the way, including the big boys coming in for our buys. Despite this there are the usual boo boys around who want to bring back the champion ego of the Lane,’Arry, but we’ll be OK in the end without him ……. well done Dan and COYS!!!

  3. FrontWheelNeil says:

    If if’s & and’s were pots & pans eh???

  4. Vic says:

    Yes agreed. But you are using a large dollop of hindsight. Where you finish in the League and how many pots on the shelf if the only final arbitor.
    There are sign, however, that United and Fergie may have peaked and are a bit wobbly by their standards. Spurs under AVB are becoming intriguingly solid and could be set to rival the bigger boys in readiness for a new super stadium.

  5. Ballotellitubbie says:

    Firstly Kyle Walker, a great fullback moving forward but his defensive qualities are lacklustre. With moments of concentration loss in EVERY game, the only guarantee when he plays is that he will give the ball away when our defence is in a vulnerable position, at least twice in a game.

    With regards to Dembele & Bale, I agree with you, they are tremendous players who would most definitely have taken United’s title out of sight. However, the bottom line is BlueNose obviously didn’t want them enough otherwise he would have had them. Let’s be honest, if you’re a player and you have the choice of playing at Spurs or United, you’re choosing United, surely??

    As for our Chief Scout, Ian Broomfield’s contract was terminated in September 2012, on AVB’s command.

  6. fumper27 says:

    What a crock of turd. Ill give you Dembele but not the others:

    Walker – was understudy to Kyle Naughton when we signed him. No one knew he’d come so far so fast

    Bale – was only a promising LEFT BACK when he signed for Spurs. It’s been at Spurs that has developed him into the player he is today

    Modric – was considered to light weight for the Premier league when he joined spurs. This is why he did not join Manchester United

  7. Nelson says:

    I got to say this article is pretty stupid. You choose players based on their ability now but price them based on their sign on price. Bale and Modric were unproven when Spurs signed them. Rate these players on what their worth together, about 70 million I’d say. Anyone can play the what if game in retrospect.

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