x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 17 January 2018

What transfer lessons Manchester United, Liverpool and Chelsea have learnt

Unlike last time around, this summer has seen lots of business completed with less than two weeks to go of pre-season with the first ball to be kicked in competitive action on August 16.

Manchester United got in Ander Herrera early, right, as a show of intent to make up for last season's folly. Getty Images
Manchester United got in Ander Herrera early, right, as a show of intent to make up for last season's folly. Getty Images

On September 2 last year, as the transfer deadline day came to a close, David Moyes was trying and failing miserably to strengthen his Manchester United squad three matches into his first and only season in charge at Old Trafford.

Along with United executive vice chairman Ed Woodward, Moyes resided over a shambolic transfer window as they missed out on several targets and then overpaid for Marouane Fellaini with a fee of £27.5 million (Dh168.8m) to Everton.

Weeks earlier, United had offered the club close to that amount for Fellaini and Leighton Baines as a package, the latter who they did not sign at all.

A poor transfer window was not the only reason for the problems for Moyes and United last season, but it certainly did not help.

Now, 11 months later, the English Premier League’s big clubs seem determined to wrap up their summer shopping before the transfer window ends on September 1.

Maybe the days of last-minute faxed bids and private helicopter rides are coming to an end.

Like the schoolchild cramming on the eve of a big exam, Premier League managers have too often been left scrambling for loan deals or paying over the odds as the clock ticked down. No longer, it seems.

This summer has seen lots of business completed with less than two weeks to go of pre-season with the first ball to be kicked in competitive action on August 16.

Champions Manchester City have been quieter than usual in the market, adding only Bacary Sagna, goalkeeper Willy Caballero from Malaga and Porto’s Brazilian midfielder Fernando. Manuel Pellegrini is clearly happy with his squad.

Liverpool were spared a second successive summer of a will-he-won’t-he saga with Luis Suarez after the Uruguayan moved to Barcelona just days after the World Cup.

Even before then Brendan Rodgers had been busy reshaping his squad with Rickie Lambert, Adam Lallana, Dejan Lovern, Emre Can and Lazar Markovic so far all signed.

Chelsea, meanwhile, have defined no-nonsense business. Two of the summer’s biggest signings, Diego Costa and Cesc Fabregas, were secured before July was out, and they will be joined by Atletico Madrid’s Felipe Luis and the returning loanee Thibaut Courtois.

Jose Mourinho does not do last-minute panic buys and he is not about to change his shopping ­habits.

At Arsenal, any dithering by Arsene Wenger was avoided as he signed forward Alexis Sanchez from Barcelona in a big statement of intent.

Roberto Martinez, in his first season at Everton last summer, impressed with last gasp moves to acquire Gareth Barry and Romelu Lukaku on loan, but he has not left it to the last minute this summer in signing both men to full-time deals. While the top five last season have, to varying degrees, strengthened already settled squads, there is little doubt which club has been the story of the summer.

Louis van Gaal has wasted no time trying to move Manchester United on from their disappointing year under Moyes with new training methods, fitness regimes and tactical formations.

Yet, he knows that one or two big money signings are still needed to satisfy the club’s expectant fans, with midfielder Ander Herrera from Athletic Bilbao already signed and impressing in friendlies.

Arturo Vidal and Mats Hummels are rumoured targets, and Van Gaal will be wary of getting involved in self-defeating bidding wars so late in the day.

Deadline day may be a media driven circus that clubs, and fans, seem unable to resist, but it is bad practice to sign players after the start of the season.

Again this summer, any deadline-day move will mean the player in question would have missed his new club’s first three league matches and, more importantly, a pre-season, which allows him to get accustomed to new surroundings, teammates and playing ­systems.

Liverpool’s solid start to last season showed just how important it is to hit the ground running. Even without the suspended Suarez, Liverpool recorded three 1-0 wins at the start of the season to top the Premier League table before transfer deadline day.

It set the tone for the rest of their campaign – the previous season’s seventh-placed team produced a strong, but ultimately unsuccessful, title challenge.

The new Dutch manager of last season’s seventh-placed team knows exactly what needs to be done to repeat the trick – and it does not involve leaving things until the late hours of September 1.

akhaled@thenational.ae

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