There is an evergreen Gary Neville tweet about well-run clubs and transfer deadline day drama, specifically that the two tend to be incompatible.

Posted in 2012, I can’t quite recall who he was referencing at the time, but there are those for which it remains relevant year after year. The word of choice when clubs find themselves still conducting significant business as the clock hurtles towards midnight is ‘scramble’ – a ‘difficult or hurried clamber up or over something’.

An apt description of a select few Premier League sides, perhaps the most baffling aspect of how their summer is evolving is the predictability with which they find a way to make it stressful for themselves. Elite clubs pour so much resource and time into their recruitment departments these days that, with the money they have to spend, it really should not be all that difficult to not be consistently cast as Sky Sports News’ main character, bravely doing battle against what was formerly Jim White’s jumbo countdown clock.

It must be galling, working your way into an executive position at one of sport’s richest organisations only to cast a stray eye to the TV and realise you are a contestant in some sort of reality/gameshow crossover, one where the world watches an increasingly desperate mission to ‘beat the clock’. What’s behind door number one? Is it Sofyan Amrabat and a new left back, or an army of Twitter teenagers declaring your club ‘finished’ and that you, personally, are ‘mudded’? The stakes could not be higher.

John Murtough may have replaced Ed Woodward in the recruitment hotseat, but Manchester United remain annual competitors, unable to resist another go on the big deadline day wheel of fortune. There are few football opinions as consistently true over the past decade as ‘United look a bit short in the middle of the park’.

And despite spending £55m to try and render the statement false this summer, it somehow still applies. Mason Mount takes an awful lot of undue flak - there must be a reason why every manager he has ever worked under finds him so valuable - and it would be premature to judge whether Erik ten Hag pushing to spend heavily on him was a poor choice.

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But it has been so obvious for so long that a glaring weakness of his team is an inability to control matches. It is something top teams do not struggle with, primarily due to their recognisance of the merits of deploying a midfielder capable of doing so. Despite the fact he retired in 2018, United have never really replaced Michael Carrick.

And so here they are, dithering over Amrabat, who must now surely be fretting that his decision to make himself unavailable for Fiorentina and accelerate a transfer to Old Trafford might be about to backfire. Simultaneously, a long term injury to Luke Shaw has catalysed United being linked to just about every midcard or unwanted left back in Europe.

Injuries happen, of course, but well-managed squads are able to cope with players being unavailable. They certainly tend not to enquire about the availability of 32-year-old Marcos Alonso on a two-year deal.

For a time, this summer, it appeared United may swerve any late window drama, with the signings of Mount, Rasmus Hojland and Andre Onana completed without too much fuss - even if outgoing fees for the former two raised eyebrows. But it appears difficulty in moving on players no longer in the manager’s plans – a longstanding issue – have led to the club approaching D-Day with little financial room for manoeuvre, hence the mooting of multiple loan signings.

Scott McTominay has joined Harry Maguire in the surplus to requirements category, but suitable departures for either man have not materialised, and it is hindering the prospect of a permanent transfer for Amrabat.

If all else fails, United could always try and tempt Chelsea into buying the pair of them. Rumour has it chairman Todd Boehly has never seen a player he did not, at least fleetingly, think about signing. His club are the very antithesis of United’s sluggish approach, seemingly gripped by a feverish compulsion to continue buying players for every last moment they are permitted to do so.

They are at 11 and counting for the summer, far surpassing the impressive seven recruited in January. In the past 24 hours, they have been linked with Jamal Musiala, Ansu Fati, Emile Smith-Rowe, Cole Palmer and Ivan Toney, the latter still serving an eight-month ban for breaching FA betting regulations.

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I’m not saying Chelsea already have too many players, but last week manager Mauricio Pochettino was asked a question about out-of-favour defender Malang Sarr, and replied: ‘Who?’

And despite spending almost £1bn since summer 2022, I can’t find too many experts tipping Chelsea as potential title contenders which, to be honest, doesn’t seem quite right. In Pochettino they do have an exciting manager, a likeable character who you feel will be afforded time to get it right where the clubs owners may not have.

And it is undeniable they have harvested a number of young talents upon whom this transfer strategy is banking heavily on developing into world class performers. It may not work, but they are certainly throwing everything at it. Up the road at Old Trafford, you’ll struggle to find a United fan content that their club have done the same.

But while that big clock keeps ticking, anything can happen. If that sounds like I’m trying to be tantalising, it’s not. ‘Anything’ could still turn out to be an ageing, stop-gap left back.