Mike Phelan believes a large part of Manchester United's identity disappeared overnight when Danny Welbeck was sold to Arsenal.
The long-term assistant manager to Sir Alex Ferguson was part of the coaching staff that helped transform Welbeck from a promising youth player to a first team star. However, Welbeck was allowed to leave Old Trafford for rivals Arsenal in a £16 million deal.
In exchange, Manchester United agreed a loan deal with Monaco for superstar striker Radamel Falcao, highlighting a change in direction since the days of Sir Alex Ferguson. No longer are youth products and local lads the priority.
"Danny Welbeck has been part of United's identity and that has been broken," Phelan told BBC Sport.
"What will happen in the future now, nobody knows but that thread has been broken now."
Ferguson was famous for his ability to bring youth team players through the youth ranks at Old Trafford during his 27-year tenure. The 'Class of 92', including the likes of David Beckham, Paul Scholes and Phil and Gary Neville was the most famous.
But now Ferguson is gone, there has been a lot of effort put into bringing established world-class stars in from external sources. The tactic has been likened to that of Real Madrid's galacticos.
More youth exits
To make room for the likes of Juan Mata, Angel di Maria and Falcao, Tom Lawrence, Nick Powell and Michael Keane all left Manchester United both on loan and permanently.
Phelan, who was Ferguson's assistant between 2008 and 2013, believes the philosophy of under Van Gaal and vice-chairman Ed Woodward is farflung from the one he left behind.
"There is always the start of something and maybe this is the start of a new way of doing things at Manchester United and maybe that is the way football is going," he added.
"Is it better to look at the instant rather than the future? It is a difficult one because youth is always the future, we all have to start somewhere and you just hope that product of youth can develop in the Premier League."
The loan deal for Falcao, although impressive, is nothing short of staggering and would have surely shocked both Ferguson and Phelon. The Colombian will reportedly pocket around £300,000-a-week at Manchester United and cost the club over £20 million for the season.
Seeing one of the brightest products to emerge from the academy leave for a direct rival in Arsenal is certainly a risk from Van Gaal and shows that there is a certain amount of urgency to get the best players in, regardless of the sacrifice required.
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