Louis van Gaal is creating a bit of a storm within the Man United fans; some are impressed by his ruthless personality and strength in character, whilst the rest find him arrogant and unfair and believe he’s starting to ruin the ‘United way’.
Sir Alex Ferguson was not renowned for splashing the cash every season and would instead build on his youth and bring in players who he thought had the potential to be great at the club. For example, Phil Jones and Chris Smalling were bought in by Sir Alex as a ploy to replace the ageing, Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidić. Based on the current team, that business has paid off as Chris Smalling and Phil Jones are still at the club, whilst Vidic has departed and Ferdinand has retired.
Van Gaal does not seem to have that philosophy and is building for the present, rather than the future. He is not shy to spend a few pennies either, having spent well over £200 million on new players since he joined the club.
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No doubt the fans were happy to see new faces coming in but now it is going a bit sour, with spending getting ridiculous and desperate whilst some of the current crop are getting sold on the cheap, for next to nothing.
They’re seems to be a lack of young players breaking into the first team and that was never a problem for the club during Sir Alex’s rein. He would always give youth a chance and develop them into better players.
Under Van Gaal United have been linked with nearly every single top player going and have been left red faced on more than one occasion. The Pedro deal looked done and dusted but still ended up falling through as he decided to join fellow Spaniard Cesc Fabregas at Stamford Bridge instead.
Spending big was never the United way but it looks like that’s all the club have to offer now – money, money, and more money. The club aren’t attracting the best players at the moment and it’s only really the massive transfer bids and wages that seem to entice them into a move.
Van Gaal is a ruthless manager and will not hesitate to drop players who are not performing. That is a good strength to have as a manager but the problem lies when he refuses to give players the opportunity.
When he joined the club he immediately sold one of United’s home grown, English players in Danny Welbeck. This was not a popular decision for many fans who felt that Welbeck could still offer so much to the club, even if wasn’t by scoring goals. He was let go for a measly £16 million to major rivals Arsenal.
Adnan Januzaj was unbelievable under David Moyes and was the only bright spark in what was a very bleak season. Under Van Gaal last year he was frozen out the team completely and rarely got a chance.
United have allowed Januzaj to go out on loan to Borussia Dortmund and Javier Hernandez has been sold to Bayer Leverkusen for £7 million.
They already looked short of options, especially in the attack and so the sale of Hernandez in particular, does not make any sense. Hernandez was rarely given a chance under Van Gaal, immediately loaned out last season and then sold in this summer window.
He came on as a substitute in the second leg of United’s Champions League qualifier against Club Brugge but failed to convert from three yards out and also missed his penalty kick. Even with this display Hernandez was their most natural goal scorer and could have easily notch 15 goals in the Premier League.
Robin van Persie and Nani have both joined Turkish side Fenerbahnce for £3.8 and £4.3 million respectively. United are selling players with real quality for pennies in comparison to how much they spend on new ones.
Van Persie maybe injury prone but is still a deadly finisher and worth at least £10 million. Nani was excellent last season for Sporting Lisbon and Van Gaal even contemplated recalling him in January. Surely he is worth at least £8 million.
Selling these two class players this cheaply is sickening to the fans who have now got to put up with the current squad. Nani is inconsistent but would have added the spark and skill to the team, whilst Van Persie’s clinical nature means even in an injury plagued season, he can still hit double figures.
The panic buy
Manchester United already looked in need of a striker before the Hernandez sale after only scoring three goals in four Premier League games, (one of which was a Kyle Walker own goal). With Hernandez and Januzaj both departing, that ‘need’ became urgent and United were willing to spend whatever it took to land their man.
Anthony Martial was the man they had their hopes on and were adamant on signing the young, French international. Dubbed the next Thierry Henry, United would not take no for an answer and as desperation struck, offered a humongous £36 million.
Manchester United have always been an exciting and entertaining team to watch, but since Van Gaal’s rein, the football has been average at best. The fans are pleading for the team to perform better and regularly chant, ‘attack, attack, attack’ to spur the players on.
Van Gaal likes his teams to keep possession but at the moment United are passing the ball to death and everything’s quite static and pedestrian. There are no runners in behind and a lack of movement which means they are easy to defend against.
What United need to do now?
Manchester United certainly have the calibre of player to be a success this season but they must start to play a more entertaining brand of football.
Martial is definitely not worth £36 million but he can add something else to the United team and inject some much needed pace to the side.
I’d expect to see him playing as the main striker with Wayne Rooney dropping into his favoured number 10, play-making position. Martial will hope to hit the ground running and with Rooney and co for service, could hit double figures this season.
He is only 19 and so will probably take a while to adapt to his new surroundings but there is no doubt he will improve the team and could be pivotal for United.
The team have looked solid defensively this season but the attacking side of their game has not been good enough. They are struggling for goals and need to start providing more chances for their strikers.
Van Gaal must start changing his ways too and not be so ruthless if he wants to get the best out of his players. If Martial struggles initially he must continue to get game time and not be frozen out the side like Nani, Hernandez and Januzaj were.
Martial has replaced Radamel Falcao, Van Persie and Hernandez and so that still leaves United very short upfront and, that, for me will be the main reason they will struggle this season.
The Premier League already looks too much to ask for and they can forget about winning the Champions League this season. Trophies are a must for such a big club though and so United must focus on winning the FA or League Cup this season which will surely boost morale and bring back Manchester United’s winning ways.