The past two summers have highlighted the pressure Louis van Gaal and Manchester United are under to try to regain the Premier League title.
A new transfer policy has been adopted where the targets are now established international or Premier League players. Granted, David Moyes was afforded the luxury of Marouane Fellaini and Juan Mata but neither fitted his system and were almost bought as a sign to show United still had financial clout. Last summer, however, Angel Di Maria starred at the World Cup and was part of Van Gaal’s prospective jigsaw.
Similarly, he identified Daley Blind’s versatility as being key following impressive displays in the aforementioned competition. This summer the Dutch boss has purchased an Italian international right back and possibly signalled the end of Rafael’s career while Nani has been forced out by the arrival of the talented Memphis Depay.
Both Nani and Rafael, in deals similar to those of Cristiano Ronaldo, Anderson and Fabio, were bought as potential stars of the future by Alex Ferguson. And while Cristiano Ronaldo has proven to be one of the world’s greatest players and the source of a huge transfer pot for Manchester United, all of the others were nowhere near as successful as hoped.
Ferguson was also given money, and allowed time, to develop unproven defenders Phil Jones and Chris Smalling as well as David de Gea. Last summer Luke Shaw arrived for nearly £30 million. He was capped at senior level for England with 60 senior league appearances behind him, whereas the previous defenders mentioned had only 60 senior appearances between them when they signed.
In fact, in the latter years of his reign, Robin van Persie was the only proven Premier League and international player to arrive at Old Trafford. Now, however, it’s different – Van Gaal has to deliver. That’s why the arrivals of Morgan Schneiderlin and Bastian Schweinsteiger had to happen this summer.
Schweinsteiger will not play every game this season but he will have a profound influence on the team. He is the captain of the current World Champions and commands respect. Pairing him alongside the Premier League proven Frenchman or the youthful Ander Herrera can take their game to another level.
Van Gaal knows that Schweinsteiger will conform to his master plan and others need to follow suit. Players such as Victor Valdes and Robin Van Persie who didn’t fit Van Gaal’s strategy were left to seek a move while those who played regularly last season – Ashley Young, Antonio Valencia and Michael Carrick – will have to up their game to play this season.
Van Gaal doesn’t have the time afforded to Ferguson. United supporters and the boardroom demand success in the next season or two and are willing to break the bank to bring in successful players. Will this policy prove successful or will Chelsea hold onto their title? Could Manchester City’s similar transfer policy reap rewards? Only time will tell.
Tom O’Connor, Pundit Arena
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