Why Manchester United can’t cut the ‘dead wood’

First of all, let me start off by saying I just got back from a week in Spain. Ironically, despite being in Madrid I couldn’t have felt further away from all the rumors/headlines/stories about Gareth Bale. Maybe it’s because I don’t speak a lick of Spanish. Maybe it’s because I did a good job staying off my phone.

I don’t know. The one day I saw a newspaper Paul Pogba was front page news with the paper (it was either AS or Marca) devoting a full section to his imminent transfer. (On page two they put up Madrid’s potential starting XI with a Pogba transfer and didn’t even list him as a starter which is lol.)

What my social media break did allow me to do was not take the bait and engage all the idiots out there who don’t seem to understand how transfers work on Twitter (and believe me, there are A LOT) when they try to blame the club for not selling certain players – or try to compare the club to other clubs who have sold players.

I’ve tried to explain how complicated the transfer market is several times. There are a lot of moving parts and things that need to get agreed on. That could be on the players side (because of sponsorship reasons), it could be because of simple accounting, or it could be because teams don’t need to sell and therefore will hold out for a better deal, it could be because the player simply won’t agree to go, or it could be a number of other factors.

None of that has stopped the media, and especially the fans from moaning about Manchester United’s “refusal” to cut deadweight from their squad. They’ll use it as evidence that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer isn’t as ruthless as he said he would be (he said after the Everton match that certain players wouldn’t be here next year). Others will blame Ed Woodward, saying that the board isn’t allowing Solskjaer to sell these players.

Despite talk of a re-build this summer, United have only signed two new players, with Ander Hererra – a player who arguably should have been re-signed – being the only first teamer to leave.

Chris Smalling, Marcos Rojo, Matteo Darmian, Alexis Sanchez, and Phil Jones all remain at Old Trafford, to the ire of many fans.

As I’ve stated many times, I’m not an Ed Woodward fan. I think he’s terrible at his job and United will never fully compete with Europe’s best until they hire a director of football.

Having said that, it’s unfair to blame this all on Woodward as the blokes on twitter love to do.

Luckily for those people I’m back from vacation and am willing to explain to them why these guys haven’t left yet. I’ll try to spell it for you real easy.

Manchester United haven’t sold these guys because they literally can’t.

Let’s use our brains here. What has been the biggest transfer story in the past week? I’ll give you a hint, I wrote about it in the first paragraph.

Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane has very publicly been trying to ship Gareth Bale out of town. The club doesn’t want him, the fans don’t want him, and frankly Bale doesn’t want to be there.

Two years ago that probably wouldn’t have been that difficult. But today with the transfer market being inflated and teams being generally smarter, no one wants to spend crazy amounts of money on a 30 year old. And that’s where Real are running into problems.

Gareth Bale doesn’t want to take a paycut. Nor should he. At 30 years old he’s still an incredible player with a few good years left in him. In 2016 Real decided to pay him €600k/wk (before taxes) for six years. Bale earned that money, he earned that contract, fair to play to him for wanting to receive it.

Sure, he could go back to Tottenham and be a hero, but it’s hard to think he’d get more than a third of what he’s getting now. If you’re Tottenham would you want to lock in a four year contract at £200k/wk for a 30 year old? Probably not.

Bale holds all the power here. Real gave him a contract and they have to honor it. He knows that. You can argue he may not deserve €600k/wk but he certainly deserves more than £200k/wk. There’s no reason for him to take a paycut just because his new manager (who happened to be the manager when Real offered him that contract) doesn’t like him.

Well United fans guess what. Gareth Bale isn’t the only player with a contract. Smalling, Jones, Rojo, Darmian, and Alexis all have contracts too. Even if United don’t want them, they still hold the power.

When it comes to Marcos Rojo sources confirmed to me that United literally can’t give him away. They’re offering him to teams for free but no one will take him.

Your first reaction may be “of course not, he’s shit,” which is true for United, but not true for the Premier League. Rojo would be a fine addition to many mid-table Premier League clubs or Europa League players in Europe’s big five leagues.

But Rojo currently makes £80k/wk. No one else is offering anything in that stratosphere. Therefore if you’re Rojo (a player who has played in two Copa America finals and a World Cup final) why would you leave?

The same thing goes for Chris Smalling and Phil Jones. It’s clear for both of them that they’ll never get back into Gareth Southgate’s England squad – therefore going to a smaller club in search of more first team doesn’t make sense. Considering that United’s CBs have a long history of always getting hurt, there’s no point in leaving. Why give up that money that the club committed to you?

Ed Woodward certainly has part to blame here. He gave these guys new contracts (thought Jose Mourinho fought for them).

United are now stuck with that poor decision. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t actively looking to sell them. They are, it’s just the players are the ones with the power here, and they’re using it.

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