FAILING IN THE SIMPLE TASK OF PERSUADING A GROCER TO SELL THEM EGGS
The Fiver is not one to draw hasty conclusions – To Do is To Dawdle, that's always been our motto – but there can surely be no denying that the new regime at Manchester United has made the least auspicious first impression since the time Weird Uncle Fiver turned up for a blind date wearing nothing but hot pants and an expectant grin.
Whereas United fans were hoping for a summer of signings that would show the world that the club is determined to retain its Premier League supremacy regardless of Lord Ferg's abdication, the transfer window shut last night with the main hole in their squad remaining as hideously exposed as our deluded relative. New manager David Moyes and new transfer guru Ed Woodward should have eggs all over their faces this morning … but were unable to persuade local grocers to sell them any eggs.
Woodward, it is true, was successful in his previous role at the club – managing to convince seemingly shrewd businessmen to hand over millions of pounds for titles as prestigious as 'Manchester United's official paint provider' and 'Manchester United official noodles partner' – but his initial attempts at wheeling and dealing in the transfer market have been about as convincing as an Ashley Young fall.
United's prospects looked brightish in July when, amid ardent wooing of Cesc Fábregas and Thiago Alcantara, Woodward left the pre-season jaunt to Australia in order to conduct "major transfer business" but it soon transpired that that was just a reference to the stop-over at Hong Kong and United would not be getting the creative midfielder they badly need. United eventually lowered their sights and seemed set to settle for Ander Herrera, only for the bid to founder on the technicality that United did not agree to pay the price demanded by the player's notoriously intransigent club, Athletic Bilbao.
That was the same reason for which they failed to secure a new left-back from the famously skint Everton. Woodward's approach has led to some fans to accuse him of being ignorant or arrogant but that may not be completely fair: after all, while leaving no stone unturned in their search for an available world class midfield schemer, United still found time to stop and give directions to the Emirates to some discarded German tyro called Mesut Ozil.
So deadline day was not entirely negative for the faltering champions. Indeed, drawing expertly on the inside knowledge that Moyes gained during his decade at Goodison Park, United eventually cajoled Everton into accepting four million pounds more for Marouane Fellaini than they would have been obliged to accept if United had met the Belgian's buy-out clause before it expired a month ago. Which suggests it might just be a good thing that Moyes has zero experience of winning trophies, playing slick attractive football or beating teams in the top four.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
"We can get all that [English food] in LA, though you sometimes have to pay through the roof for it. A bottle of Ribena is 14 dollars. But I get my Walkers crisps delivered once a month. I have a box of Roast Chicken, a box of Salt and Vinegar, and a box of Monster Munch … and there's more Premier League football on TV there than there is here" – while blathering on about how he reckons immigration has ruined the country that $exually Repressed Morris dancing Fiver calls home, Vinnie Jones reveals that by sticking to a six-year-old's eating habits, he can feel more British than ever in Hollywood.
"After the window closed last night, I decided that a Fiver of my hard earned cash is going on Arsenal to win the league now. Walcott - Wilshere - Ozil - Cazorla - Ramsey is just to delightful a midfield to fail. Isn't it? I know it's traditional to send in jokes, but some regular readers will find my optimism funny, I'm sure" – Paul Froggatt.
"As amusing as it is to see all this 'Moyes out' palaver, is it really his fault? After all he inherited an unbalanced squad, massive expectations and Woodward has now given him a transfer window that must make him wish he was back at Everton. As a Liverpool fan, I almost feel sorry for him" – James Ellis.
"Has Joey Barton got a 'cockney' accent now? I've been away" – Rob W.
"Much as Matthew Wimbury is right to praise 'One Size' Fitz Hall as a great nickname, surely it's not better than Kiki 'Chris' Musampa's?" – Tim Sowula.
"It was fitting that you included so many culinary references in Monday's 'Still Want More?' section, because I often find your tea-timely missive to be half-baked" – Evan Spielmann.
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BITS AND BOBS
Mezut Ozil has climbed down from the mantelpiece that Arsène Wenger is displaying him on, to thank his new manager for shelling out £42.5m for him. "I was certain that I would stay at Real Madrid but afterwards I realised that I did not have the faith from the coach or the bosses. I am a player who needs this faith and that is what I have felt from Arsenal, which is why I have joined," he trilled.
Pithy headline writers' dream, Prince Abdullah bin Mosaad bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, has bought a 50% stake in Sheffield United. But chill your beans Blades fans, he's not going to splash the cash. "Money will be spent judiciously, and in any case we must comply with the Salary Cost Management Protocol," he snoozed.
Daniel Sturridge's thigh-knack and Jack Wilshere's stomach-urgh! meant they had to sit out an England training session before the World Cup qualifiers with Moldova and Ukraine.
And despite only leaving the club a few weeks ago, Popular Striker Carlton Cole is set to rejoin West Ham after their attempts to sign Demba Ba went belly-up. "The club are pleased to announce that popular striker Carlton Cole is undergoing a medical today with a view to returning to the Boleyn Ground on a short-term deal," honked a Hammers suit.
STILL WANT MORE?
David Moyes and Ed Woodward's transfer window dithering was all a bit Frank Spencer, writes Jamie Jackson, without referencing Frank Spencer in any way, shape or form.
If it's club-by-club analysis of the transfer window ins and outs that you're looking for, you probably need to get out more. But click here anyway.
Maybe it was because Joe Kinnear was so busy talking to his high-powered pals around the globe that Newcastle forgot to sign anyone, writes Louise Taylor, with a sharp pen.
Football cliche bingo alert: the 10 stages of a protracted transfer saga (or PTS as the Fiver's doctor likes to call it).
Stick your transfer window nonsense, the African World Cup qualifiers are where it's at, reckons floating football brain-in-a-box Jonathan Wilson.
There are still places available for the next of Big Paper/Website's 'How to be a football journalist' masterclasses on 29 September. If you're interested, you can sign up here.