Ander Herrera's free transfer proves Ed Woodward a slow learner
Background image: Guts Gaming, CC By 2.0
All is not well at Manchester United. In disarray after Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s dream was cut short, behind-the-scenes problems are becoming unavoidable. The manager maintains an upbeat attitude but smiling isn't enough to stop the rot.
The Norwegian’s been promised a large transfer budget to rebuild the squad this summer, but he needs more authority over internal matters. That includes deciding upon player contract extensions. Too many players past their prime are receiving retirement cheques without needing to go to MLS. Players with something left to give suddenly don't fit in the budget. Ander Herrera’s shocking departure is the ideal example of Ed Woodward's careless approach.
The Spaniard is set to move to Paris Saint-Germain on a free after not being offered an appropriate contract. The Red Devils waited until the last second to make a minimal offer. More than the contract itself, it’s the method of approach that surely grated. You won't find a player more devoted to the badge at any club. to be left hanging after giving his all is unconscionable.
Juan Mata is in similar straits. While their importance to United’s success varies, losing two first-team stars for free is a worrying sign. It’s time Ed Woodward grants these responsibilities to someone more attuned to the need. Maybe Ole can use the old Football Manager tactic of giving contract renewal duties to someone he trusts in the hierarchy.
Regardless, United must be more attentive to detail. David de Gea’s contract situation is stuck in limbo. The Red Devils are also keen on negotiating new contracts for Paul Pogba and Marcus Rashford to fend off interest from Spain. In the midst of trying to secure their top assets, they’re losing core players for free.
United’s callousness isn't limited to keeping things late. They’ve dug a deep hole offering lavish contracts to players who least deserve it. Chris Smalling and Phil Jones stand out. Each contributed to losses against Wolves and Barcelona. Both were among the first rewarded with new contracts after Solskjaer’s arrival. Marcos Rojo, who’s made four appearances this season, sits on a luxurious £80,000/week contract.
Alexis Sanchez tops the cake, however. The Chilean makes more than a million quid per month for failing to score. The Red Devils must stop rewarding mediocrity. Their flawed payment structure is causing an internal conflict of interest. David de Gea reportedly wants a wage similar to Sanchez. As does Paul Pogba, if he is to stop flirting with Real Madrid.
One can’t blame these stars for wanting more. Pogba’s had his personal best season, scoring 16 goals and assisting 11, creating joyous moments in a difficult situation. Like always, De Gea’s saved them from despair multiple times, best seen during his heroics at Wembley against Tottenham Hotspur. Herrera became a vital cog in Solskjaer’s midfield trio. If Sanchez is receiving a huge wage for underperforming, those who excel have every right to ask for more. Sanchez came to United because Arsenal had a wage ceiling, the reason for which is now painfully evident.
Fringe players like Rojo and Matteo Darmian should make fringe wages. Veteran players like Young, Jones and Smalling should be willing to take pay cuts to remain in an elite squad. Top performers like De Gea, Rashford, and Scott McTominay can then be awarded.
The nightmare situation ensuing behind-the-scenes at Old Trafford must end. Ed Woodward needs to look into the matter even if it means looking into a mirror.