Towards the end of last season, the Manchester United fanzine editor and journalist Andy Mitten came up with an innovative approach to track who the club would be signing in the upcoming transfer window. Speaking on the Talk of the Devils podcast, Mitten joked: "We all need to start watching the Dutch version of Match of the Day".
United employ around 140 scouts who work around the world, but since Erik ten Hag has been manager, those based in the Netherlands have been the busiest. Of the 13 players the club have signed since the Dutchman's arrival, be it on loan or on permanent deals, eight have previously played in the Netherlands. Three of those (Antony, Lisandro Martinez and Tyrell Malacia) joined directly from the Eredivisie, while Andre Onana had spent the majority of his career there, only leaving Ajax for Inter in 2022.
Christian Eriksen began his career at Ajax and spent five years there, although he has since enjoyed the bulk of his playing career in the Premier League and could not be accused of lacking top-level experience when he signed for United in 2022. The same is true of Mason Mount, who spent one solitary season with Vitesse.
Then there is Wout Weghorst, who began his career in his native Netherlands but moved to Wolfsburg in the Bundesliga in 2018. Finally there is Sofyan Amrabat, United's latest arrival, who came through the ranks at Utrecht and played under Ten Hag before switching to Feyenoord and then to Club Brugge of Belgium in 2018, eventually joining the Red Devils from Fiorentina via Hellas Verona.
The Netherlands has a rich football history, producing some of the best players and managers of all-time, and United have a rich connection with the country. The club's Dutch links stretch back to Arnold Muhren in the 1980s and were strengthened by the roaring successes of Ruud van Nistelrooy, Jaap Stam and Robin van Persie, as well as Louis van Gaal's colourful two years in charge.
Ten Hag is a continuation of this long and mostly successful relationship. However, the manager's apparent penchant for players who have played in the Eredivisie oversteps the mark. And with United languishing outside the top four and floundering in the Champions League, there is plenty of evidence that this transfer policy is not working.
As Sir Jim Ratcliffe and his INEOS counterpart Sir Dave Brailsford continue to assess what they need to make United a force to be reckoned with, they will need to bring the strategy to an end.