Jadon Sancho pursuit mirrors Bruno Fernandes mistake: Richard Buxton
Man United have not learnt from their past transfer failings
Manchester United simply refuse to learn from their mistakes in the transfer market.
As their pursuit of Jadon Sancho veers towards a potential dead end, one of the last players they agonised about signing provided a timely reminder of a need to act decisively.
Six months of dallying and dithering preceded Bruno Fernandes' eventual arrival at Old Trafford. The playmaker's heroics in their 1-0 extra-time Europa League quarter-final win over Copenhagen yesterday morning (Singapore time) suggests it was not time well spent.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer doubted the Portugal international's technical quality before finally biting the bullet and shelling out 55 million euros (S$88.9m) to Sporting Lisbon in January.
Had the Red Devils manager considered actual evidence rather than his own less-than-sound personal judgment, his side ultimately would not have stumbled unconvincingly to a Champions League qualification place in this most prolonged of seasons.
Fernandes has become the club's most transformative signing in the post-Sir Alex Ferguson era.
His 95th-minute penalty in Cologne took his tally of direct involvement in goals in Europe's secondary club competition since the start of 2017/18 to 21.
Some 600km south of Cologne's RheinEnergieStadion, however, United's inability to heed warnings from recent history was laid bare just hours before the last-eight showdown.
Dortmund's sporting director Michael Zorc told reporters in Bad Ragaz, Switzerland, where the club had started a week-long training camp, that Sancho remains in their plans for next season.
The Bundesliga giants hold all the cards after their deadline for the 20-time English champions to come up with the goods passed. The club added that just last summer, they had secretly negotiated an improved contract with Sancho until 2023.
Judging by the current levels of media bluster, United are seemingly more interested in winning a meaningless public relations battle than securing Sancho's services.
They have cried foul over Dortmund's negotiating strategy despite it remaining crystal-clear and consistent - meet the player's 120m euro valuation in full or forget about any deal.
United's executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward should have known better than trying to go toe-to-toe with a hierarchy at Signal Iduna Park notorious for driving a hard bargain.
The likes of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Ousmane Dembele have been sold for a combined fee of around 170m euros in the past three years alone.
Both players behaved badly to push through their respective moves yet still left at a premium.
Clinching the signature of a fully fit England international whose trajectory, at 20, is only heading skywards for 120m euros is comparatively small change.
Yet United appear hellbent on pursuing the penny wise and pound foolish approach which has pockmarked their post-Ferguson existence.
A player's worth is measured more by what he adds to balance sheets and social media statistics than what he does on the pitch. That growing disconnect is the reason the Red Devils now heavily lag behind their rivals, both in the English Premier League and beyond.
United cannot remember how they struggled before Fernandes graced their midfield. In time, they may come to think similarly of Sancho if he eventually dons the famous red shirt.
Before that, they need to swallow some pride and cough up the cash.
"They know United are really interested and they are
pretty heavy into negotiations. I think they are bluffing
and they know he is going to leave at that price."
- Ex-Bayern Munich star Owen Hargreaves on Borussia Dortmund's stance that Jadon Sancho is staying put