Sunday 18 August 2019

'It has been a scattergun approach' - Ireland legend questions Ed Woodward's transfer policy at Manchester United


Kevin Kilbane believes Ole Gunnar Solskjaer may be the next victim of Manchester United's failed transfer policy. Photo: Martin Rickett/PA Wire.
Kevin Kilbane believes Ole Gunnar Solskjaer may be the next victim of Manchester United's failed transfer policy. Photo: Martin Rickett/PA Wire.
Kevin Palmer

Kevin Palmer

Ireland legend Kevin Kilbane has accused Manchester United CEO Ed Woodward of masterminding a failed transfer policy, as he suggested manager Ole Gunner Solskjaer could become the latest victim of his 'scattergun' approach to player recruitment.

Woodward has come under fire for failing to land his top targets once again this summer, with the £50m capture of Aaron Wan-Bissaka United's only big-name arrival with less than a week to run in the transfer window.

While United have been trying to sign Juventus forward Paulo Dybala in a swap deal that will see striker Romelu Lukaku move to Turin, Kilbane told us that the lack of clarity in United's recruitment process is a flaw that will continue to undermine their effort to reclaim past glories.

"United's transfer policy since Alex Ferguson stepped down as manager has been hard to work out," said Kilbane, speaking at the launch of Virgin Media's €55-a-month 'Endless Football' campaign.

"They have paid top wages to attract players, handed over massive money to sign the big-names, but they have not necessarily got the right fit to the club.

"It has been a scattergun approach. They see that a superstar player is available and they outbid everyone to get him, without actually working out where he fits into the team and whether he is the player they need.

"There is no real identity to the club and this has been the case through a series of managers. David Moyes was the first to try and work with their Woodward and that didn't go well. Then Louis van Gaal and Jose Mourinho tried to work for the club and once again, it was not successful. Now Solskjaer is experiencing it and it might not end well for him.

"Heading into the final week of the transfer window, United appear to be looking at Dybala and Harry Maguire and even though they are at the top end of the transfer market, they believe they can get them and will offer more money than anyone else to make it happen. It's not a policy that works.

"The reality over the last few years has been quite sobering for Manchester United fans because it has been an incredible turnaround for them. Quite simply, what they have been trying has not worked, but they don't seem to have changed too much as they now they are trying to persuade Dybala to sign for them.

"The idea that United have to try and convince players to join them is a big shift in mindset for anyone who has been a part of football over the last 30 years and especially for fans of the club.

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Former Republic of Ireland player Kevin Kilbane during the launch of Virgin Media's 55-a-month 'Endless Football', Superfast Broadband and TV package, at Virgin Media Ireland HQ. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Kilbane believes United will be well off the pace in the Premier League title race once again this season, as he predicts defending champions Manchester City could run away with the top prize this time.

"I always thought it would be a challenge for Liverpool to start this season quickly after their Champions League win because it is never easy coming down from a high like that, kicking on and going again," added Kilbane.

"That is the difficulty for Klopp and his players now. Can they replicate what they did last season and maybe even take it to the next level because that is what they will need to do to stop City. It is arguably the toughest challenge in football to win the Premier League in this era.

"What they have got going or them is a very good defence, a top goalkeeper and they will be very strong again, but I would worry that they might not start quickly enough to stay with Guardiola's side, as we know they will win game after game in the opening weeks of the season."

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