United acquire Mata; prove that they've still "got it."
In what is easily the biggest news in the January transfer window, Manchester United swung for the fences, successfully completing the signing of of Chelsea playmaker Juan Mata. Only time will tell whether or not this move was a homerun, but given the dire straits that United have been in lately, this is - without doubt - much welcome news for the club faithful.
The acquisition of Mata has moved to dispel one major myth, one long held by United opponents and bandwagon fans alike; that no premier players want to play for Manchester United. This was spurred on when the club was unable to land players like Cesc Fabregas, and Thiago Alcantara during last summer's transfer window.
I will say this much; you can't always sign every player you target in the transfer window. Before a player decides to switch employers, there's a few things to factor in prior to the decision. These include, - but are not limited to - things such as salary, environment, club prestige (contend for trophies, play in big games on big stages etc), the role they are likely to play at their new job, and a chance to further their own career.
Even as United endured a drought in between league titles, they were still able to attract good players. Even a few coaches, good by any measure, tried their hand at steering United back to glory (or some form of it). Things may not have worked out the way they had hoped, but it was certainly worth a try.
When Alex Ferguson took over the reins, he had some misses too. He tried, but was unable to land Gary Lineker, Mick Hartford; and had reportedly agreed to terms with Paul Gascoigne before the rug was pulled from beneath him, as Gazza wound up joining Tottenham instead.
What United had established however, especially during Fergie's tenure, was that while they were willing to pay for talent, they would not engage in endless bidding wars that have now become the norm during the transfer period. They were also not going to be held ransom, forced to shell out an astronomical amount just because they are Manchester United, and should therefore be able to "afford it." (see: Lucas Moura to PSG)
They are a big club, have the prestige, and they consistently contend for trophies. They also offer competitive salaries, but it comes down to one thing... does the player in question REALLY WANT to play for United?
Call it "The United Way", if you please. There's a certain way they handle matters; you get in where you fit in. This one of the things that sets United apart from most clubs.
And even though United are for the most part set in their ways, rarely do they ever pass up the chance to sign a big name whenever the opportunity presents itself. (see: Robin van Persie, Juan Mata).
The era of Moyes and Woodward may have got off to a rocky start, but for the older (and often wiser) fans, it's not their first time at the rodeo. They know that United will still remain a big club, and that no matter how dark and dreary it may be, the sun will eventually come up.