Even the critics and doubters - of which there are many - who have been waiting for years to see Manchester United crumble and fall can’t claim that Louis van Gaal’s appointment doesn’t represent the beginning of a new era promising gold and glory.
Upon reflection it was all too easy to cast reservations over the capabilities over the squad to bounce back from last year’s nightmarish campaign, but over £150 million was spent this summer to rectify any problems that Van Gaal inherited.
The Van Gaal project
The recent 4-0 bashing of QPR has naturally seen United supporters slowly edge their way out of the holes they had taken cover in and with their next four games throwing up only a home clash against Everton as a recognisable obstacle, the immediate future is brighter than it’s been for a long, long time.
For Van Gaal is no David Moyes, and his aptitude for constructing sides that win far more often that they lose promises to see the Red Devils’ status amongst the biggest and best teams in the world restored.
The fact that Angel Di Maria and Radamel Falcao have signed up to his project speaks volumes of the calibre of players who still see United as being one of the go-to clubs in European football, and aside from the obvious draw of large amounts of money it makes sense to assume they’ve moved to Old Trafford safe in the knowledge that this year’s absence from the Champions League is a one-time-only occurrence.
Cristiano Ronaldo rumours
On top of that there’s a new rumour doing the rounds, one which concerns arguably the best player in United’s history making a shock return. Word on the grapevine in Spain is that Cristiano Ronaldo is no longer immovably in love with Real Madrid and, despite the obvious desires of anyone associated with the club, could be tempted by a return to the Premier League in the form of the Van Gaal revolution.
Yet whilst it’s impossible to stop United supporters the world over predicting a homecoming steeped in the expectations of success, the Ronaldo deal is one which will need to be approached incredibly carefully if it is to come anywhere close to coming fruition. The Portuguese superstar would transform United’s fortunes virtually overnight, such is his talent, with his reintroduction to the fold set to signal the end to the post-Sir Alex Ferguson blues once and more.
How then does Van Gaal go about attempting to engineer what would be one of the biggest transfers ever seen? Ronaldo only signed a new five-year deal at the Santiago Bernabeu last September and is fresh from winning the Champions League. Madrid may have started this campaign on the wrong foot, losing two of their opening three La Liga games, but they remain perhaps the greatest attacking unit in the world.
The only way Florentino Perez and Co. are going to even consider allowing the man who’s scored 257 goals in 252 appearances in all competitions for Los Blancos is if he outright asks to leave. Without going into too much detail United need to apply the right sort of pressure to bring Ronaldo to boiling point.
Sir Alex importance
This is why Sir Alex, though now having been retired from management for over a year, finds himself of the utmost importance to the club’s future, yet again. The legendary Scot has a relationship with Ronaldo like no other individual in football, and the impression he left on the forward during his formative years in the sport has allowed a connection to form which makes a potential Ronaldo-United reunion feasible.
That idea is one that appears to be commonplace, which is why no sooner had the rumours of United’s interest in the man they sold for £80 million in 2009 been brought to light, speculation began to mount over whether or not Ferguson would play a role in enticing him back to England.
The 72-year-old may have hung up his managerial coat forever, and subsequently plunged United into a period of unprecedented chaos, but with the right application of pressure on Ronaldo he could help orchestrate a deal which would ensure Van Gaal has the best possible chance of succeeding.