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Ineos are already fixing Glazers’ biggest fault at Man United with latest decision – opinion

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Manchester United have spent more than a billion in the transfer market since Sir Alex Ferguson and his magic management walked away from the managerial role in 2013.

They have no Premier League trophies to show for that and the status of United as underdogs in marquee clashes has been firmly established.

There are a lot of problems at United that the Glazers failed to fix, or even recognise. Worse still, some problems were clearly recognised but there was a lack of want to fix them.

It has resulted in Sir Jim Ratcliffe coming in and making a wave of changes, almost working overtime to fix the mess of nearly two decades.

In terms of transfer market, he has accepted that the club has wasted millions and the need of the hour is to work smartly instead of chasing marquee names with no planning.

However, United’s biggest mistake has never been buying players aimlessly, it’s their inability to do the other side of the business that makes their balance sheet look abysmal.

Donny van de Beek of Manchester United during the pre-season friendly match between Manchester United and Borussia Dortmund at Allegiant Stadium on...

Photo by Matthew Ashton – AMA/Getty Images

Ineos fixing Glazers’ big mistake

Donny van de Beek’s move to Girona is extremely important for a reason. It is the start of Ineos fixing Glazers’ biggest fault at United- not selling well.

Often, under the Glazers, contracts of underperformers were extended with no rhyme or reason from a footballing POV. It was done to protect their “book value” as a contract in hand is an asset on the books.

Phil Jones was infamously given a contract extension in 2019. He made eight appearances that season and five in total the next three seasons.

Therefore, United effectively paid him for four years and 13 appearances, lesser, in fact, as he signed the contract in February of 2019.

Anthony Martial was rewarded with a contract worth £250,000/week after a half-good season under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

For years, United have dithered in selling, or when they did make their mind up to sell, did so extremely badly.

Di’Shon Bernard’s transfer sums up this vicious cycle perfectly. He followed an encouraging loan spell in League Two at Salford City with an even better season at Hull City in 2021/22.

What should have followed was either a sale when the player’s value was at his peak, or an attempt to integrate him into the first team.

Remarkably, Bernard spent half of next season with United U21s as neither happened, and was then sent on loan to a division lower at Portsmouth in League One.

Di'Shon Bernard of Manchester United in action during a Manchester United training session at Carrington Training Ground on January 9, 2023 in Manc...

Photo by Ash Donelon/Manchester United via Getty Images

He moved to Sheffield Wednesday on a free transfer upon the expiry of his United contract where he has again established himself as a Championship player.

The only sale United have got partially right following loans is that of Dean Henderson and even then, they gave him a lucrative new contract which meant they couldn’t receive a big fee for him.

Van de Beek’s exit should set a trend

The Dutchman was in the last year of his contract and on wages worth £120,000/week. Any fee for him would have been better than paying those wages for a year without him playing.

However, United did one better. With an upfront fee of just half a million, they enticed Girona but made sure they would benefit from their gesture as appearance-based add-ons take the fee in the region of £3-4 million.

Complicated addons will have United earning even more than that, the sort of smart deal the club never made under the Glazers.

Add to that the ruthless exits of Martial and Raphael Varane, and Ineos have shown they won’t let “book value” come in the way of making sound financial decisions. This summer was always going to be more about undoing Glazers’ mistakes and setting a marker in the market that United are no longer to be toyed with.

Ineos have started perfectly by undoing the biggest mistake with this sale.

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