Boot Room: No short term answer to United’s strife
Dubai: Anyone expecting Manchester United to suddenly burst back into English Premier League (EPL) contention with the summer arrival of Luis Van Gaal is cruelly mistaken.
It will take another couple of seasons, at least, to recover from Sir Alex Ferguson’s departure and the effect of David Moyes’ mismanagement, last season.
After an opening 2-1 home loss to Swansea City last week and a 1-1 away draw to Sunderland on Sunday, Van Gaal has already conceded it will take a “miracle” to win the league this year.
The Dutchman has blamed an “unbalanced” squad with “five No. 9s and six No. 10s” for their “unacceptable” start to the season.
It’s still early days and given the twists and turns of last season anything can happen, but given the top heavy nature of United’s squad and the lack of wholesale changes in the transfer window, there are at least four or five teams that look better placed than United to succeed this season.
United’s trouble stems from Moyes’ inaction. Having failed to clear out the old guard, he wasted time on unrealistic targets and then hurried in buys like Marouane Fellaini and Juan Mata, players whom, without releasing some forward midfielders, were far too similar to what United already had.
Van Gaal has gone some way to address the overcrowding, while bolstering defence with Luke Shaw and Marcos Rojo. But the purchase of Ander Herrara and interest in Angel Di Maria, smacks of yet more overindulgence up top.
United have until Monday to augment their squad with some necessary forward departures and the additions of some solid statement signings with which to rebuild a spine from the back of the field up. Even if that did happen — and it looks increasingly unlikely — it would take time to bed those players in.
Otherwise, United’s next opportunity comes in January and by then their season could be over. Transfer windows are so few and far between and business between clubs is getting so long and drawn out nowadays that coaches can’t act with the urgency they perhaps need.
Owners are drawing the purse strings tighter, clubs and agents are driving a harder bargain, and players are getting ever harder to offload, because no one can afford them. Unless Van Gaal can act fast with some serious signings, or he has a Class of ’92 type answer to fall back on, United — through no fault of the new manager — will continue to struggle this season. Moyes, left with the tail end of a generation, may have been just as much a victim of this phenomena as Van Gaal.
The truth is there is no short term fix to the problem and as Ferguson’s 26-year reign contests, things will take time.