The summer of 2013 is certainly one to forget for Manchester United fans. After a catastrophic, record-breaking season under the tutelage of the hapless David Moyes, United fans are longing to see the club regain the swagger of previous years.
With just £27 million shelled out on Marouane Fellaini, a summer of renewal and excitement became a period of pure frustration and discontent.
The club has already gone to work righting the wrongs of the past summer. With a combined total of £60 million spent on the promising duo of Ander Herrera and Luke Shaw, things look to be heading in the right direction.
However, there is work still to be done. In order to for Louis van Gaal to help lift Man United from the slump of the past 12 months, the transfer window needs to be approached differently. So here are FIVE steps that United need to follow to make this a summer of success.
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Faffing for the best part of three months last summer resulted in Moyes overspending on Fellaini – a player who quite simply isn’t worth the outlay. Constant rumours of big names and big fees never came to fruition, and Moyes left himself an uphill struggle with a squad that Sir Alex Ferguson had squeezed to its maximum potential.
The signs are there that van Gaal and Ed Woodward are going about things differently this summer. With targets identified early, and two big-money signings already made, the club are showing that they mean business this time around. Herrera and Shaw aren’t enough to take United back to where they want to be, but they are statements of serious intent. United have money to spend, and they aren’t afraid to show it.
Arguably the weakest area of the United side last season was in the heart of midfield. Lacking the creativity, aggression, drive, and goalscoring abilities on almost every level meant made them an easy target for teams looking to get at United. It’s an area of high priority if the van Gaal aspires to have an instantaneous impact on the club.
Ander Herrera for £29 million is a serious outlay, and further rumours persist surrounding Arturo Vidal and Sami Khedira. If United can bring in a real star performer then that could change the whole complexion of the side. It could help rebuild the confidence of the likes of Tom Cleverley, and would really help the productivity of the more advanced attacking players.
Van Gaal doesn’t have the luxury that David Moyes did of being able to rely on the experience of Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand. Their departures have left United with a lack of experience and know-how in defence. It’s another problem that will require urgently addressing this summer.
Whilst Fergie rates Chris Smalling and Phil Jones so highly – he once claimed the latter had what it takes to become United’s greatest ever player – they are yet to show enough ability to suggest they are to fulfill their not insubstantial potential. Along with Jonny Evans, they are yet to show they are fully ready for the weight of expectation at United, and they still require an experienced head to improve alongside and learn from.
Last season the wide areas for United were YET ANOTHER area of serious concern as, excluding Adnan Januzaj, they lacked the unpredictability and penetration. Moyes struggled to nail down a starting 11, and regularly chopped and changed between who he felt were his best players for the position. He even tested Wayne Rooney out wide, before shoe-horning Juan Mata, ineffectively, out wide.
The young Dutch wide midfielder Memphis Depay is heavily linked with a move to United this summer, and he has shown enough promise for both club and country to suggest he could bring something extra to the table. Too regularly United relied on slinging hopeful balls into the box, lacking the ingenuity to do anything else. Van Gaal needs players who can go either way, and pose different kinds of problems to opposition full-backs.
One continual problem over the past few seasons has been Wayne Rooney’s state of mind. There are no players in England who face the intense scrutiny that United’s number 10 does on a daily basis, and few players fill as many back pages. Rooney has had his future in question on two or three occasions in past seasons, and has demonstrated a tendency to look for the exit if things don’t go his way.
He remains arguably United’s most influential outfield player, and has the ability to destroy teams by himself when on form. But Rooney doesn’t want to play in midfield, and he doesn’t want to play out wide. Louis van Gaal’s relationship with van Persie could limit Rooney’s time up front next season, and any reinforcements could make competition in the side even tougher for Rooney. To bring success, van Gaal needs a united United. And there is little more important to this than having a happy Rooney.