Not too long ago, Manchester United were the best club in English and European football. Cristiano Ronaldo ruled the roost, Wayne Rooney was his partner in crime and all was well under Sir Alex Ferguson.
But now they are devoid of just about everything great they once possessed. Louis van Gaal has drained the club of its soul for longer than even David Moyes could manage. In a day where their financial might is so rosy, it seems unfathomable just how far they have fallen behind.
This is now a rebuild that could take a hefty sum of money to put right. Too many players have been coasting along in a way Ferguson would never have allowed. The lack of passion amongst the current crop is staggering, and they now face a huge battle to secure Champions League football for next season.
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When Van Gaal strutted into Old Trafford after the World Cup in July 2014, the Dutchman was meant to signal the start of a new era that would see them recover from their misery under Moyes who was axed just 10 months into a six-year contract.
But it has now well and truly backfired. Few remain of the squad that Ferguson bequeathed to his successor, less than three years ago, and plenty have come and gone after failing to make an impression.
Talent has been squandered in Angel di Maria and Radamel Falcao. The way Di Maria is shining for Paris Saint-Germain is an example of what they had and foolishly let go. No player with his ability should be given up so willingly and Memphis Depay has been an average replacement.
Falcao, like Danny Welbeck, was not deemed worthy of staying either. Javier Hernandez, Bundesliga Player of the Month for the third month running, missed a penalty against Club Brugges and left mere days later. Robin van Persie was let go to Fenerbahce
Van Persie was joined by Nani at the Turkish side, and United’s squad is now unrecognisable in both personnel and style of play.
The club must now worry that the scars of the Van Gaal era may hamper the development of certain players in the future as confidence and optimism seem in such short supply amongst both supporters and individuals on the pitch.
It is now a rebuild job that requires another healthy injection of cash. They will chase superstars – expect bids for Gareth Bale and Neymar – but the truth is very few have done anything to justify their own places in the squad.
Bastian Schweinsteiger and Morgan Schneiderlin were the signings that got fans excited the most, yet neither have really settled into Van Gaal’s squad. Anthony Martial, who was infamously deemed a waste of money upon signing from Monaco, has been the only exception.
Will United rebuild their squad and challenge for the title next season? Leave your comment in the opinion box below!