Following the resolution of Radamel Falcao’s season-long loan switch from AS Monaco which completed Manchester United’s sixth signing of the summer, some fans and members of the media have labeled the club’s transfer spending spree as a ‘galactico’ policy.
After news of Danny Welbeck’s departure to league-rivals Arsenal, former United assistant manager Mike Phelan said he feels part of the club’s identity “has been broken”.
“They have probably lost the way of Manchester United a little bit,” Phelan said told BBC Sport. “Now, rather that produce, it may be the case where they are buying in.”
“What will happen in the future now, nobody knows. But that thread has been broken now.”
But United’s identity wasn’t broken by the club’s summer spending, it was damaged by years of neglect.
United have had a policy of developing home-grown talent over the years, from the Busby Babes to the Class of ’92. But the club have also spent money on big-name signings when it was necessary. So what has happened over the past several months is nothing new.
The overhaul of United’s squad has been something in the making for the past few seasons, but for whatever reason, the club failed to address the issue until now. That hesitancy has left the twenty-time champions scrambling to field a first team that can compete on the highest level of European football.
Yes, United won the Premier League by a comfortable margin two years ago. But many of those players were on board last season as the club fell to a disappointing seventh place finish in the league under David Moyes.
Part of the blame can be placed on Moyes. But very few could argue that United’s squad wasn’t aging and/or up to the standards required to compete on the highest level of the sport.
Outside of Wayne Rooney, Robin van Persie and David de Gea, it would be hard to find a United player who would see first team action at a major European club.
Of course, a club doesn’t need marquee players dotting its roster in order to compete for domestic or European titles. But United’s “homegrown youth” and the players the club has acquired over the past few seasons are not on the same level as those at other top English or European sides. They also haven’t shown a chemistry or ability to adapt to new leadership following the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson. So it is time for new blood.
Louis van Gaal kept to his word and gave United’s players time to prove they could grasp a new philosophy and show some kind of progress towards helping the club retain its elite status. Some players have remained, a lot of have left and six additions were brought in during the summer window.