REVEALED: Inside story on Manchester United’s slow start in transfer window
With their squad back for pre-season training a week on Monday, the disquiet from Manchester United fans is understandable.
Before signing off for the summer, United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said he wanted all of his new signings on board and ready to start training when the squad returns on July 1.
Yet with just 12 days to go until United's players report back for duty at the AON Training Complex, the only arrival so far is young winger Daniel James, signed from Swansea for £15million.
Bids have been made - and rejected - and targets talked up, but United fans who have become wearily accustomed to their club's inertia in the transfer market are suffering deja vu.
Contrast that with Real Madrid, whose response to finishing third in La Liga last season was to spend close to £300m on new signings in the past few weeks, including Chelsea forward Eden Hazard.
Last summer, after finishing second in the Premier League, their highest position since Sir Alex Ferguson retired in 2013, significant investment in key areas was expected for United to push on.
Instead, United had arguably their worst transfer window since 2013. Fred arrived from Shakhtar Donetsk for £52m, Diogo Dalot from Porto for £19m and Lee Grant, a third-choice keeper who has yet to start a game for United, from Stoke for £1.5m.
For a club with supposed designs on mounting a title challenge, it was a window of spectacular incompetence and United duly paid the price, sacking Jose Mourinho midway through the season and finishing sixth, after Solskjaer's honeymoon period came to an abrupt and chastening halt.
One year on and those lessons from last summer do not appear to have been learned, with little sign of the arrivals needed to haul United out of their current malaise and back to where they belong - challenging for the top-four and, in time, the title.
Crystal Palace have rejected two bids for their right-back Aaron Wan-Bissaka, with United offering £35m plus £15 in add-ons when it is understood a straight £50m offer would more than likely have been accepted.
There has been little movement on other known targets, including West Ham's Declan Rice and Issa Diop, Newcastle's Sean Longstaff, Leicester's Harry Maguire and Ajax's Matthijs De Ligt, despite all being on Solskjaer's wanted list.
As well as trying to boost their squad with additions of the requisite quality, United are also fighting to keep club record £89m midfielder Paul Pogba, who has declared his desire to leave this summer.
Despite publicly insisting Pogba is not for sale, there is an acceptance within United keeping a disenchanted player is if little value, which is why they have set a fee of £150m for potential buyers.
And with Romelu Lukaku also wanting out, and No.1 goalkeeper David De Gea out of contract next summer and yet to sign a contract extension, the disillusionment of United fans is justified.
Towards the end of last season, when United took a meagre eight points from 27 to miss out on the top four, Solskjaer warned the club could slip further if they did not address their shortcomings.
Rather than looking to bridge the gap between themselves and Manchester City, Liverpool and Tottenham, Solskjaer feared being caught by the teams directly behind them – Wolves, Everton, Leicester, West Ham and Watford.
United's failure to move quickly out of the blocks in the transfer market this summer has served only to reinforce Solskjaer's fear, with fans concerned the 20-times champions are in danger of losing further ground on the teams above them.
Of course, executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward could change the mood by delivering some high-profile signings within the next fortnight and give downcast United fans fresh hope ahead of the new season.
But United's recent history in the transfer market, with Woodward presiding over more misses than hits in the six years since he took charge of recruitment, suggests the collective pessimism of United fans is well-founded this summer.
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