Manchester United finally completed the signing of Portuguese playmaker Bruno Fernandes from Sporting Lisbon during the January transfer window, putting an end to a saga that had been ongoing since the summer window. If one were to make a poker analogy, (fans can check out sites like Ignition) Woodward has been caught bluffing way too many times by the United fans now, and all his ‘tells’ are out in the open.
Fernandes made his debut for the club over the weekend, starting the 0-0 draw with Wolves, and provided enough in that display for United fans to look forward to. He was constantly on the move, looking to take up positions in space and directing his teammates as well. He was, of course, captain at Sporting Lisbon, so he does have the leadership qualities that the United dressing room needs at this point. It will take some time for him to settle into England as well as with his teammates, so fans should not expect him to be an immediate success.
This transfer also spoke volumes about United’s competency in the transfer market, with the move arguably coming six months later than it should have. Even then, there were fears that Ed Woodward would not get the job done and United would be left without the creative midfield signing they have needed for so long. Fans have taken their protests against Woodward and the Glazer family to the next level in recent weeks, with vocal chants against the owners being heard at games. There was an unsavoury episode where some fans took it too far and attacked Woodward’s home with fireworks and flares; this is completely unacceptable and United have promised to ban those fans for life once identified. The bigger picture here though is that this deal almost fell through due to the club’s negotiating skills, or lack thereof. Questions still remain about United’s transfer strategy, underlined by their deadline-day loan signing of Odion Ighalo. Ighalo is a 30-year-old striker who was plying his trade in the Chinese Super League; hardly the sort of player who will spark United towards the top-four. Yes, he does have Premier League experience with Watford, but that was almost four years ago now, and even in that spell he only truly shone for about a season at most. Ighalo will provide Solskjaer with another attacking option, which is important given Marcus Rashford’s injury, but his signing in the same month that Norwegian prodigy Erling Haaland signed for Borussia Dortmund is an indictment of Woodward’s transfer nous.