Going into the off-season, we wondered how the mighty Manchester United would react. Or more pressingly, how would they respond to their inter-city rivals winning the title. What could we expect to see from the players as they respond to David Moyes’ feeble efforts after Sir Alex Ferguson’s departure? And how would the team come out against other clubs of their ilk, who were going out and spending big to get the players they wanted, regardless of the cost, and using them to play in the Champions League, something United were decidedly not doing this year?
They responded by spending and spending big. When the transfer deadline expired – and even a little after – the club had spent tens of millions of dollars on a small number of players that are viewed as world-class. Even the player they acquired on loan came with a huge wage price tag. But what did the Red Devils get for their expenditure? An upgrade in some areas of the pitch, a ginormous increase in firepower, but no closer to solving the most pressing problems the team already has. This club has improved but Louis van Gaal did little to relieve the pressure on the backline, which is already struggling with injuries and trying to adapt to the new formation.
Additionally, the moves show that the Dutch manager had little faith in the youth development system that Ferguson built. Up-and-coming talents, as well as Ferguson’s favorites were dispatched across the continent to make room for his new toys. What we saw this summer was a rebrand of United. Time will tell if it’s a successful revamp, but one thing is for certain – this team is van Gaal’s present and not that of the club’s previous squads.
Who came in:
– Radamel Falcao: The disgruntled AS Monaco striker comes at a low loan fee but almost $30 million in salary, which it looks like United will have to pay. While the talent is undoubtedly there, this move becomes even more necessary if Robin van Persie’s injuries cannot be overcome. The downside to such a move? Even the greatest talents sometimes need a year to adjust to the rigors of the Premier League, but there is little room for error considering who is left as strikers.
– Angel di Maria: The Argentine benefitted greatly from his World Cup displays and his fine form for Real Madrid the past few years. While his over $100 million fee is astronomical, he gives United some bite on the wings and a great scoring threat for the 3-5-2.
– Ander Herrera: He seems like old news now because of his acquisition early in the transfer window, but the attacking midfielder can push Wayne Rooney forward into a more natural striker role and serve as an attack pivot now for Falcao and Rooney.
– Daley Blind: The value of the former Ajax man comes from his positional flexibility of being able to be plugged into three or four positions and his knowledge of van Gaal’s system both from Ajax and the national team. While he’s not the biggest name signing, he’s the kind that can move a club from Europa League to Champions League.