Jose Mourinho’s hopes of reinforcing the Manchester United squad were extinguished as the transfer deadline came and went without any new arrivals.
Last season may have been United’s highest finish since Sir Alex Ferguson retired but the 19-point gap to runaway Premier League champions Manchester City underlined the improvements required.
Brazil international Fred, highly-rated but raw full-back Diogo Dalot and third-choice goalkeeper Lee Grant all arrived at United by early July, but nobody followed despite Mourinho’s explicit desire to bring in two more players.
At the end of the month the Portuguese was speaking with confidence about getting at least one more signing in but those hopes began to fade and the deadline passed without an acquisition as Mourinho predicted.
“I am not confident,” Mourinho said of United’s chance of new signings on Thursday morning, speaking ahead of Friday’s Premier League opener against Leicester.
“I am not confident, and the market closes today, so it’s time, at least for me, to stop thinking about the market because the market will be closed.
“So I will have to focus on the players I have and in relation to these first couple of matches – maybe three matches because after Spurs (and Burnley on August 27 and September 1 respectively) there is (a) national team (break) and a couple of weeks to recover people and prepare people better.
“I will focus on the players that are available, so I am not even thinking about that list of injured players I gave you, (Nemanja) Matic, (Antonio) Valencia and so on.
“I focus on just what we have, and we go with everything we have to the first match.”
Pushed on whether there would be any ins or outs on Thursday, Mourinho added: “The information I have is no (nothing will happen).”
Mourinho warned last weekend that a “difficult season” could lie ahead if they failed to strengthen the squad before the deadline, but an inflated market has made the challenge of improving defensively an even tougher ask.
Leicester’s steadfast refusal to sell Harry Maguire scuppered any move for the England star, while Press Association Sport understands Bayern Munich did not want to allow Jerome Boateng to head to Old Trafford on loan.
United contacted Atletico Madrid about Diego Godin but it quickly became evident that the move was a no-go, while an official offer was not made for Tottenham’s Toby Alderweireld.
Interest in Barcelona defender Yerry Mina was tempered by prohibitive agent demands, with the Colombian international instead heading to Everton.