The 2014/15 Premier League season isn’t yet underway, but we’re already one manager down. Tony Pulis walked away from Crystal Palace, 48 hours before the Eagles’ season-opener against Arsenal, on Thursday evening after a fall-out with co-chairman Steve Parish. Manchester United should learn a valuable lesson from the saga at Selhurst Park: back Louis van Gaal in the transfer market, or risk losing the best manager for the job.
The Dutch coach, who replaced David Moyes as United’s permanent manager earlier this season, is believed to be frustrated - like Pulis was at Palace - at the lack of transfer activity that has taken place at Old Trafford since his arrival.
United's transfer activity has been pitiful
The Red Devils were expected to spend big this summer in an effort to galvanise their squad which, lest we forget, finished seventh in the Premier League table last season. But, with just over two weeks to go before the transfer window closes, United have made the fewest signings of all 20 clubs in England’s top flight.
Ander Herrera arrived on June 26, Luke Shaw signed a day later - but, since then, nothing. Oh, apart from 17-year-old Serbian goalkeeper Vanja Milinkovic, who has been loaned back to the FK Vojvodina and will probably never make a single Premier League appearance for the Red Devils.
Woodward: Not cut out for the job?
It’s been another embarrassing effort from United’s executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward, who can certainly talk the talk, but struggles to do much of any real use.
Almost a month has passed since Woodward brazenly proclaimed that Van Gaal, if the right player came along, would be given the green light to smash the world transfer record.
And he now has 16 days to follow up his words with decisive actions. Failure to do so will leave United severely short - particularly from a defensive point of view - and in danger again of failing to qualify for the Champions League.
Risks for United
Two weeks ago, a prospectus to potential investors issued by the Glazer family - Manchester United’s controversial owners - warned that the club could lose some of their top players and coaching staff if they fail to qualify for Europe’s elite club competition for a second consecutive season.
But United will fail to qualify for the top four if September 1 comes and goes and all they have to show for an entire summer are the faces of Herrera and Shaw, two fine players but clearly not enough.
Chelsea and Manchester City look very strong, as do Arsenal and Liverpool. Then there are the likes of Everton and Tottenham to contend with. A top-four finish is by no means a certainty. Far from it, in fact.
Van Gaal is a world-class coach and does not tolerate fools easily. Woodward must prove, over the next two weeks, that he is no fool - or risk the Dutch coach walking away from Old Trafford just months into his three-year contract.