David Moyes is nothing if not thorough. Though many felt that he would struggle to replicate the achievements of Alex Ferguson with a fading squad, the complete and methodical manner in which he has annihilated expectations is to his eternal credit. Similarly, his Everton sides were known for their overlapping and crosses, but Moyes has taken this to an entirely new plane at Manchester United, overusing the method to an extent never previously believed possible.
As such, it is no great surprise to learn that his scouts have so far watched William Carvalho, the Sporting Lisbon midfielder, 12 times. It is understood that the information gathered remains of epochal significance on each occasion, well worth alerting rivals to their interest and the selling club to their desperation. Carvalho has played 17 league games for Sporting and made one substitute appearance for Portugal, so it therefore follows that United will be charged more than £30m for the pleasure of paying his wages.
And with Moyes also in the process of thoroughly alienating and alienating thoroughly the entirety of the club's back-four, United are also seeking reinforcements in that department. In particular, they are keen on Porto's French centre-back, Eliaquim Mangala but have watched him only a measly three times. It is thought that Moyes' team of crack aficionados believe him to be better than David Weir, but lacking the poise and sophistication of Phil Jagielka. Meanwhile, United are also paying attention to Marcos Rojo, left-back for Sporting and Argentina – Moyes is believed to be privately shocked at the lack of behind-ear tattoos bequeathed to him, so plans to address the situation as soon as possible.
Elsewhere, you'd think José Mourinho had enough on his plate, what with his relentless spat with Arsène Wenger, but, after running out of "Kick Me" stickers, he has once more turned his attention to managing a football team. That his Chelsea team is short of a centre-forward who does what centre-forwards are meant to do is well known, such that it would seem surprising were he to pursue a centre-forward who wouldn't do what centre-forwards were meant to do if he didn't play in a team stupidly better than its competitor. But Mario Mandzukic is precisely the kind of lump to appreciate his patronage, and will be displaced this summer when Robert Lewandowski arrives in Munich.
Across London, Arsenal are also seeking a striker, with Olivier Giroud consumed by not being especially good – a transgression for which he has yet to apologise on Twitter. Unsurprisingly, given the desire to find a player who fits with the ethos of the club, they appear to have settled on Mario Balotelli, a temperamental prima donna whose self-regard far outweighs his achievements. Balotelli is said to be unhappy in Milan, crying when he was substituted against Napoli last week, and accordingly, Kieran Gibbs will be eager to help him integrate. For his part, Balotelli is especially attracted by the special brand of narcissistic poseury, and the opportunity to appear in one of the team's fabled post-match photo groups. More curiously, Arsenal are also watching Ben Davies, the Swansea left-back. But, they, Liverpool, Manchester City and Atlético Madrid are in the market for a left-back, and though Davies is not necessarily anyone's first choice, all would make do with him if they had to.
Having reimagined the beautiful game with his revolutionary philosophy that some British people are good at it, Liverpool's Brendan Rodgers is interested in the purchase of two centre-backs – Jamaal Lascelles of Nottingham Forest and Harry Maguire of Sheffield United. The plan is to improve them via "methods and ideas" that are "a fusion between British mentality and European ways of working" – or "playing football" as the scheme is more commonly known.
Given the opportunity to inhabit the same strata as genius of this ilk, the lot of a professional footballer is rightly believed to be an ecstatic one – but there are some for whom life can be hard. Take Ivica Olic, for example. Out of contract in the summer, though Wolfsburg have offered him a new deal, he is "still clinging to the possibility of joining up with Stoke City". The Mill passes him its most earnest sympathies.