Rarely has Manchester United been lavished in praise this season, but they deserve credit for their handling of the Bruno Fernandes transfer saga.
With matters on the pitch deteriorating and the mood off it escalating, you'd have forgiven United for wilting and submitting to Sporting Lisbon's nose-bleeding demands if signing Fernandes meant a chance to appease fans and divert some attention away from their shortcomings.
The thuggish attack on Ed Woodward's £2million Cheshire mansion this week summed up the air of malaise surrounding the club right now. The act may have been committed by a small minority of foolish and hotheaded United supporters whose tether had evidently worn thin, but while it cannot be condoned, the feelings of anger and frustration it represented would have undoubtedly struck a chord with the majority.
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These are dark times for United as it is. Imagine the fallout if they had have missed out on their No 1 target.
At present, Champions League football next season looks doubtful while the first piece of silverware bit the dust midweek as United crashed out of the Carabao Cup semi-finals despite a spirited and valiant effort to overturn a two-goal deficit at rivals City - and fans are continuing to be antagonistic towards the owners with plans to walk out in the 68th minute of their game with Wolves this weekend in protest against the Glazer family.
Fernandes' £68m arrival from Sporting Lisbon offers an uplifting glimmer of light in these trying times while Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is of the impression it could transform their whole season.
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Fernandes' arrival should mean more chances are created and goals from midfielders too
The United boss had been in autopsy mode when he first identified Fernandes as a target at the end of last season, precipitating the club's six-month long courtship of the Portuguese star - though reports have claimed they've been keeping a close eye on him since 2015.
A cultured, goalscoring, attack-minded midfielder with technical ability on the ball was exactly what United needed last summer - especially if Paul Pogba was going to be heading through the exit doors - but the deal never happened.
And so it must have been tempting just to pay the market price when January rolled around and they were still desperately short of creativity.
Sporting made their demands clear but instead of just singing to their tune, United refused to blink on Fernandes' valuation. In the end they slightly raised their original offer to get the deal over the line. £46.6m up front and the rest in add-ons, £8.5m of which is performance-based.
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On the face of it, it looks good business. United have come under scrutiny for having an apparent dysfunctional transfer policy over the past few years with millions being wasted on signings such as Alexis Sanchez and Romelu Lukaku, but here is a deal which only concluded after a very thorough process and careful negotiation. That is very un-United these days.
Signing the right players for the right money is intrinsic to a club being successful, and it has been one of United's biggest downfalls in recent years in their attempt to rebuild in the post-Sir Alex Ferguson era. But by bringing Fernandes to the