As the minutes ticked down at the end of the summer transfer window the good news filtered through – Manchester United have signed somebody.
Then came the bad news that it was Marouane Fellaini.
That bad news was compounded by the fact that United shelled out £27.5million for the Belgian midfielder from Everton – a massive £4million more than they could have signed him for a month earlier.
They would have been better keeping their money in the bank, adding nobody to the squad and admitting that it was a transfer window they failed dismally.
Instead, David Moyes and Ed Woodward added to the misery by wasting their money on Fellaini who, as many fans predicted he would, is failing at Old Trafford.
Fellaini has become a stick with which to beat Moyes.
Every misplaced pass, every foul clumsily committed, every attack that breaks down at the feet of the Belgian sees frustration and blame pour down on the manager.
The accusation is fair. Moyes managed Fellaini at Everton, he should know all about him.
This makes the decision to lavish such a large amount of money on him even more unfathomable.
The game in Sociedad on Tuesday demonstrated everything that makes Fellaini unsuitable for Manchester United.
His red card was the tip of the iceberg of mistake after mistake on a night where United were underwhelming in claiming just a point in San Sebastian.
Playing in a central midfield position alongside veteran Ryan Giggs, Fellaini looked like being sent off from the first whistle.
What United have been lacking for the last few years is a spark in midfield, someone to break down a solid defence with a piece of magic and an eye of the needle ss.
What they have got is a man lacking in so many fundamental skills of a top class midfielder – namely balance, speed, vision and flair.
Fellaini possesses the creativity of a newt.
His passing on Tuesday was, as usual, wayward.
On many occasions it is difficult to see quite what Fellaini is attempting to do on a football field.
His role under David Moyes in later years at Everton was as a second striker, operating as a target man in behind the main forward.
Under Moyes at United, Fellaini plays a deeper midfield role, though his job in the team is not that apparent.
At times it seems as though he is being deployed as a defensive midfielder, charged with winning the ball and breaking up the play.
On other occasions it looks like he is the man tasked with dictating the tempo of the game, spreading the play and moving the ball around.
Rarely, often when United are chasing the game, he has been moved further forward to try and grab a late goal.
Whichever role he adopts, he fails to produce the goods.
A mark of his ineptitude is how many times he has been left on the bench by Moyes so far this season.
Admittedly Fellaini is carrying an injured wrist but that can hardly be an excuse for his inability to pass the ball to his own team and his apparent lack of flair and guile.
The reason that Moyes has not picked Fellaini so often this season is that performances have not been good enough.
Some players step up to the plate and raise their game when they join a big club, while others shrink and look like a fish out of water.
Fellaini has definitely done the latter.
The Belgian international did not face a particularly positive public reaction to his signing and as such needed to hit the ground running and impose himself on the United team.
Instead his underwhelming performances, including a woeful display in the Manchester derby drubbing, have cemented the view with his detractors that he is simply not right for Manchester United.
Everybody who watched Fellaini at Everton could see he was unsuitable for the Premier League champions.
The tradition at United is of playing free-flowing, fast, attacking football with the midfielders the key to initiating the attacks.
That cannot happen with Fellaini in the side.
It is an embarrassment that he is United’s fourth most expensive signing of all time.
The summer transfer window was one of the worst in recent history for Manchester United.
Fellaini may well prove to be one of the club’s worst ever signings and David Moyes will wish he had left the Belgian behind at Goodison Park.
Image courtesy of Nick via WikiMediaCommons, with thanks.