Manchester United lacking key experience under Van Gaal

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At 12:45 on Saturday August 16 2014, Manchester United should have been in a position to show the rest of the Premier League that they mean business and that last term was just a blip in proceedings. Unfortunately Swansea and Gylfi Sigurdsson had other ideas.

The Red Devils suffered a 2-1 loss at home to Swansea in what should have been Louis van Gaal's statement of intent in his first home game in charge.

So where has it gone wrong for the great United of old?

The manager

Whoever took over the reigns of United's squad would instantly be expected to deliver results, which was something that did not happen for previous manager, David Moyes. Moyes rarely fielded the same starting eleven and never really seemed settled in the hot seat.

Van Gaal appears to be the closest thing to the iconic Sir Alex Ferguson based on previous experiences with such sides as Barcelona and Bayern Munich, not to mention his two spells as manager of the Dutch national side. Van Gaal commands the same hard work and respect Sir Alex installed in his sides but the only thing lacking appears to be the players in his grasp.

The big mistake for me when Moyes took over was to remove the spine of United's coaching staff, with the likes of Mike Phelan and René Meulensteen exiled and Phil Neville and Alex Irvine taking on their roles.

The hierarchy

Ed Woodward was named executive vice-chairman of United in 2012 following David Gill's retirement.

Gill was known to get the job done when it came to United's transfer dealings but Woodward showed a lack of knowledge and understanding when it came to bringing in the expected player quality at Old Trafford.

Last season saw United acquire the panic signing of Marouane Fellaini for a hefty £27.5 million on deadline day, with very little if any returns were shown by the Belgium international midfielder. This was quite clearly Woodward's attempt at making a marquee signing that backfired, not to mention his initial attempt at signing Ander Herrera and the farcical situation with fictitious United representatives being out in Spain to conclude the deal.

Woodward managed to get Herrera's signature at the second attempt in the summer followed by the signing of 19-year-old, England international left-back Luke Shaw who had a majestic season with Southampton last term. But it does not appear to have been enough so far and Woodward will need to dip into the market before it closes to ensure United replace the old guard of Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic.

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The squad

United have always in previous years had a squad full of international stars that have known nothing other than winning and success, which is where this season's side lack.

Ryan Giggs, Patrice Evra, Ferdinand and Vidic have all departed but the voids have not been filled. Shaw is more than adequate to fill in as United's left sided defender but with Ferdinand and Vidic gone can the likes of Phil Jones and Chris Smalling seize their chances to lead United to glory? I think not.

Van Gaal still has a good mix of players, with the likes of newly appointed captain Wayne Rooney, Juan Mata, Robin van Persie and youngster Adnan Januzaj complementing the additions of Herrera and Shaw but further signings will be required.

Possible transfers

Several players have been touted about as possible United targets. Daley Blind, Marcos Rojo, Arturo Vidal, Kevin Strootman, Mats Hummels and Mehdi Benatia have all been linked, yet only Rojo is a likely signing.

United clearly need central defences if Van Gaal is adamant the 3-5-2 formation is what is best for the side. Long gone are the days of big center-backs being available in abundance. Thomas Vermaelen would have been an experienced, cheap alternative but he opted for Barcelona.

Mats Hummels would be ideal to plug the gap left by Ferdinand and Vidic but he will come at a price, one worth paying if it's the difference between Champions League qualification or another bleak season for United, I would suggest.

It will be an interesting run up to the end of the transfer window for United and the season in general. I have no doubts they will improve off the back of the opening day of the season but will they be in the title mix come the end? I'm not so sure.

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Premier League
Manchester United

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