Manchester United have struggled this summer to land Jadon Sancho, the type of player Ole Gunnar Solskjaer wants to signs in attempt to add more goals to his team.
The Borussia Dortmund star’s stats speak volumes — you only need to look through his WhoScored profile. Last season the 20-year-old scored 17 goals and registered 16 assists in 32 Bundesliga appearances, and the season prior to that he managed 12 goals and created 14 assists.
Mason Greenwood, Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial scored 62 goals between them last term. Add Sancho to the mix and Solskjaer has real depth and quality in the goalscoring department.
When the transfer window opened everyone was under the impression that United saw the right wing as their priority position.
But why have we yet to make a bid for our reported primary target, a label used by a number of outlets including talkSPORT?
Dortmund have repeatedly insisted Sancho is staying at the club, as per the Telegraph, but it’s not as if they’ve had to fight off any significant interest for the player.
Deadline day is just over a week away and United are under pressure to finalise a deal for the England international.
Stretty News verdict on Solskjaer’s demand for goals
“They are top players and I think any of the top teams lose two or three of their forwards, the creators, those who make the difference, of course that can be an issue,” the United manager said ahead of his side’s trip to Brighton this afternoon (via Manchester Evening News).
“Then that gives a chance to anyone else to believe that they should be playing more to stake a claim.
“Those three — Mason, Marcus and Anthony — had a fantastic season last season. We want to develop them, of course, together as a three. Then you have players behind them who create chances for them, so it’s not just up to the front three. It’s the relationship, they get used to each other, you are a split-second ahead. The more you can play with the same players of course the better the team will be.
“Of course, you are lucky sometimes with injuries and you don’t lose them. If we lose one of them I am pretty confident that we have players who can step in.”
Forgive me if I’m wrong, but it sounds like Solskjaer is glossing over the fact United have thus far failed to sign his main target in the transfer window.
With an over-reliance on the attacking trident of Greenwood, Rashford and Martial — and no Sancho — Solskjaer has demanded the squad’s other attacking players to offer more of a goal threat.
“We had the front three who scored 60-odd goals, I can’t remember how many, then you had Bruno (Fernandes) who chipped in with penalties and free-kicks. We need more goals from our set-plays. Harry (Maguire) is one of the best in the league of first contacts from set-plays. Can we get more from that? Can we get more goals from midfield? Of course that could give us extra points. Can we get more from that? Can we get more goals from midfield? Of course that could give us extra points. It needs to give us extra points.
“We have got players in Donny (van de Beek) and Paul (Pogba) who can definitely chip in with more goals. Jesse (Lingard), Juan, Daniel James, they can get up there with a bigger tally as well.”
It’s not just a coincidence that United continue to brief on the prospects of multiple signings, then suddenly about their financial woes, as seen via ESPN.
As revealed in a hot Twitter thread by former MUFC fanzine Red Issue, the Glazers have inflicted financial covenants on the club’s debt, meaning it has to show £65m profit the previous 12 months, every 3 months.
Let’s call a spade a spade — as Laurie Whitwell did for The Athletic.
Utd continue to brief on the prospects of multiple signings, yet the financial reality is that the Glazers have inflicted financial covenants on the club’s debt, meaning it has to show £65m profit for the previous 12 months, every 3 months. pic.twitter.com/rcJAXCszXe
— Red Issue (@RedIssue) September 25, 2020
As noted in a recent Manchester Evening News report, United’s overall financial picture now won’t be made clear until after the transfer window has closed, when Ed Woodward’s fourth quarter call has previously been held in September.
Solskjaer also told the press he was confident in his players and focused on the upcoming game against Brighton when asked by journalists about transfer activity.
“I am very confident in my players. In football can’t predict too much. My focus is solely on the game. We need three points on Saturday, then we can talk again.”
OGS on if @ManUtd fans could expect movement before transfer window closes: "I am very confident in my players. In football can’t predict too much. My focus is solely on the game. We need three points on Saturday, then we can talk again."
— Simon Stone (@sistoney67) September 25, 2020
That’s a million miles away from Solskjaer’s tone in early April, when he said United’s financial strength means that they will be able to reinforce his squad and pick up relative bargains.
“Football is going to get back to normality at one point, and it’s very important we’re ready when that happens,” Solskjaer told Sky Sports.
“We want to be the best at everything, and of course now is a chance to spend more time, you discuss players, discuss plans, we’ve evaluated what we need, of course with the coaching staff we’ve looked at games, evaluated games, discussing on video calls like this.
“Then, the market, who knows how the market is going to react to this? Who knows which club need to sell players?
“There might be just a situation there where you can exploit, and I know that we at Man United we are one of the biggest, and the biggest, financially well-off.
“I’m sure we are capable, when we get back to normality, that we can do the business that we want to.”
Solskjaer either didn’t get the memo, lied to cover up United’s tracks when there was uncertainty over the transfer kitty, or was lied to.
He boasted in the same interview, back in April, about having more time to discuss transfers without games to prepare for…
“Of course there will be text messages and WhatsApp messages more often,” he said. “But the biggest difference for most of us is that when you’re a footballer you don’t really get to spend much time with your family.
“That’s been a big plus, if you’re allowed to say that anything has been a big plus in this situation. But yes, we are planning, we are discussing what we have to do, what we can do, and I have to say the club has been very good so far.”
What has happened since then?
The optimism has faded and fans are erupting with anger. I hope, even if they end up doing a deal for Sancho, that frustration remains with the board because this is an unacceptable situation for United to be in at this point of the transfer window.
So little care from the board when it comes to preparations ahead of a new campaign — year-after-year, and not just in 2020 when the world has been hit with a pandemic.