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Manchester United get Marouane Fellaini ($42 million), possibly Fabio Coentrao (loan) in under the wire

Sep 2, 2013, 7:25 PM EDT

Belgium's Fellaini celebrates after scoring against Serbia during their 2014 World Cup qualifying soccer match at the King Baudouin stadium in Brussels Reuters

About this previous post: The one where we were trying to draw parallels between Manchester United’s deadline activity and Arsenal’s of years’ past? Given a couple of late acquisitions — moves made just before today’s 6:00 p.m. Eastern deadline — that comparison may be a little harsh. After all, in bringing in a couple of international-quality players, the Red Devils have certainly improved their squad, even if the day featured one prominent miss.

But let’s put Ander Herrera in the past for now. Because now is about Marouane Fellaini, who finally moves from Everton for $42 million. Now is about Fabio Coentrao, who will (or, may) take up residence in Manchester on a one-year loan from Real Madrid.  Together, they represent the two significant additions Red Devils supporters thought they were getting with Herrera and Fellaini, and if the embarrassment of the Herrera situation can be put aside, Red Devil supporters may see their team as similarly improved.

Every Premier League fan knows Fellaini, the tall, afro-wielding Belgian impossible to ignore in the middle of the park. Capable of playing anywhere from defensive midfield (his preferred position) to supporting striker (arguably, his most effective spot under David Moyes at Everton), Fellaini is one of the more versatile players in the league. He’s also the type of guy that can prove a great equalizer in Champions League, where his physicality, ability on set pieces can cover for a lot of evils. Roaming the area between Manchester United’s overpowering attack and the team’s regista, Michael Carrick, Fellaini is the perfect fit for the Red Devils, even if it’s been some time (ever?) since the club had a player like him.

In Coentrao, David Moyes gets another highly versatile player, one that can play either fullback spot as well as in central midfield. With injuries at right back, the Portuguese international should see time immediately, and whether it be spelling left back Patrice Evra, complementing Carrick, or filling in for anybody else in midfield, Coentrao should prove a valuable piece, if not (eventually) an outright starter.

Yet as we write, news is coming of another potentially embarrassing situation for United, with one source in Spain (relied in English by another source in Spain) affirming speculation United failed to get Coentrao’s paper world in before Monday’s 6:00 p.m. Eastern deadline:

According the The Guardian’s latest reporting, Manchester United sent in preliminary paperwork in time and had until 7:00 p.m. Eastern to get Coentrao’s details worked out.

If Coentrao’s move goes through, it’s a successful day for United, even if they missed out on Herrera; even if they missed out on Leighton Baines. If, however, Coentrao’s situation gets added to the Herrera debacle, this goes down as one of the more embarrassing Deadline Days in recent memory, with foibles costing a prestigious club two potentially valuable pieces.

If that happens, expect Red Devil mistakes to overshadow Fellaini’s acquisition when we think back on this summer window.

  1. bellerophon30 - Sep 2, 2013 at 8:36 PM

    I’m curious about why they waited for Fellani, paying more than the release clause that they could have activated a few weeks ago. The obvious explanation is that Moyes wanted to see his team in action…….but I wonder if there’s something more than that.

    I still think that Wayne Rooney is the best choice for attacking mid, but at least this move puts Anderson in our rearview, even if he’s still on the roster, no way he gets a game now without a couple of injuries.

    • Richard Farley - Sep 2, 2013 at 8:39 PM

      My feeling is that MUFC were hoping to buy Fellaini and Baines in tandem, for their part viewing the Fellaini part of the deal as less than the release clause. When that didn’t work out, and as the window closed, they had to ask whether they were willing to admit defeat and pull the trigger on the deal. Which, they did.

      • bellerophon30 - Sep 2, 2013 at 8:45 PM

        Makes perfect sense, though Moyes misreading of his old club is a bit puzzling. Surely he knew of a back channel that could be used to reach out to Baines to see if he was interested in leaving (at no point have I read that he is). But the borderline ridicule that MU is getting for its transfer dealings is a bit disquieting.

      • Richard Farley - Sep 2, 2013 at 8:52 PM

        There was reporting earlier this week (Guardian and Independent both, I believe) that Baines had approached Martinez and Kenwright as asked them to negotiate with Manchester United. To the extent that’s true, who knows, but:

        Many suspected Baines’s camp leaked that as a “come get me” to United.

        The only other things I’ve heard, as speculation, is that Moyes knew Kenwright wouldn’t turn down the amount of money United would offer for Fellaini and felt the best way to leverage a Baines deal would be to couple the down, offer an even bigger face-value sum, and win him over. And that didn’t work.

        I agree with you, though. This is obviously not a glowing reflection of Woodward and Moyes. At least, not in my mind.

  2. footballer4ever - Sep 2, 2013 at 9:12 PM

    I am a ManUnited fan, but even with these additions it has a feeling this will be transition year with a new “boss” running the show after Ferguson retired. I might be wrong in the end, but a Fergusonless ManUnited will cause some effect.

  3. robeml - Sep 4, 2013 at 12:47 AM

    Transfer shambles is down to Ed Woodward

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