So deadline day has come and gone without Manchester United spending anything, leaving us feeling a little disappointed as the very, very faint hopes of a fix for the lingering midfield problem evaporate for another six months. But then again, this transfer window saw United smash their record to sign one of the best players in the Premier League, so perhaps it'd be silly to be too disappointed with the Reds' January efforts.
It was probably never realistic to expect a big name star like İlkay Gündoğan, Toni Kroos or best of all, Arturo Vidal to arrive this window, with it notoriously difficult to prise players away from their clubs in January. That we managed to bring in a name as big as Juan Mata at all is no mean feat, and David Moyes and Ed Woodward, for all of the calamitous mistakes they made last summer, have gone some way to redeeming themselves with an opportunistic manoeuvre which could see United catapulted back into the Champions League reckoning.
Sure, Mata doesn't patch up our massive midfield problems. Regardless of the makeup of United's central pairing, it's invariably lacking in creativity and dynamism. It'd still disintegrate into thin air whenever Peter Whittingham lumbered towards it.
But what Mata does do -- aside from the obvious; improving United's attack and serving as a useful morale-booster for both players and fans -- is afford Moyes time to fix these problems once and for all. His signing has deflected attention from the fact that no improvements have been made to United's persistently awful midfield, and has given the manager an extra few months to identify targets and precipitate big transfers in the run-up to the summer window.
At the moment, in ignoring the midfield, Moyes has made an ostensibly sensible decision to go for a world class player or two in the summer rather than a second-rater like Fredy Guarín now. The only problem for Moyes is, he now needs to seriously come up with the midfield goods in the summer for his patient approach to pay off. If not, we'd not only have lost the short-term gain of a mediocre signing like Guarín or Éver Banega, but also the massive long-term boost promised by the summer capture of a genuine world star.
If we start next season with a completely revamped, world class midfield, this window will go down as a demonstration of patience paying off; Moyes not settling for second-best or sub-standard signings for a limited gain. If not, it'll be another horribly missed opportunity, regardless of the abilities of Juan Mata. Next time, the fans certainly wouldn't be so forgiving.
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