This was supposed to be the season that everything started to come together. Manchester United were meant to strengthen the back four and revamp a midfield that needed Paul Scholes to come out of retirement towards the end of Sir Alex Fergusons’ reign to provide creativity and control.
It could be said that without the Ferguson factor and his ability to make players go that extra mile, most managers would have struggled with the players United had left for their disposal in the middle of the park. Moyes did bring in Fellaini and had targeted Herrera, who was eventually one of the first few signings under Van Gaal. However, that was not enough, as Rooney was deployed in a midfield role for a large portion of the season.
The start of the summer spending showed promise as United managed to tie up early deals for Depay, Schneiderlin,Schweinsteiger and Darmian. This looked to have addressed some of the major issues, having used Valencia as a right back last season and letting Rafael leave, Darmian was an excellent addition having shown his ability for Italy and Torino. His performances this season have justified the faith Van Gaal has placed in him. Schweinsteiger and Schneiderlin have added experience and bite into that midfield that was overly reliant on Carrick and it was no surprise Uniteds form last season mirrored Carricks‘ availability.
However, what followed that early spree was nothing less than disappointing. Ed Woodard had boasted money is not an issue when Van Gaal was appointed and on the back of the record breaking deal with Adidas that statement would appear to have merits. Despite being linked to various marquee signings such as Bale, Fabregas, and Ronaldo, over the last 2 seasons United have failed to land the stars it seems they seem to crave.
Angel Di Maria was an exception and United did make a statement they can bring in stars despite missing out on Europe and the late signing of Falcao was another positive at the time, however both players disappointed and have subsequently left the club.
Looking at the United squad now there appears to be a clear imbalance. Tuesday night match stats show United had 17 shots at goal with 5 on target, and only 1 goal to show for it. PSV on the other hand had 6 shots at goal, 4 on target and 2 goals scored. In the past, United were always known for their fast and effective football but also the ability to score goals at a canter.
The 4 Summer Transfer Mistakes
Having let Hernandez, Van Persie and Falcao leave this summer and only having Martial coming in has meant United lack the prolific goalscorer they really need. Fellaini is not a centre forward and Martial is still young and learning his trade.
Van Persie and Hernandez are proven goal scorers in the Premier League and had United kept atleast one of these on the books, it would have meant Martial could make more appearances from the bench and make impacts like he did on his debut against Liverpool. United are only a one major Rooney injury away from catastrophic problems in attack.
United also failed to secure a centre back, Blind has made a great start to the season and in his presence has helped Smalling settle and produce some of his best and most consistent performances in a United shirt. However, the jury is still out on Blind being the long term solution to the centre back problem, as he does have a tendency to get attracted to the ball and can lose his man as was evident in the game against Club Brugge.
The best signing of the transfer window could ironically be the collapse of De Gea’s proposed transfer to Madrid and his subsequent signing of a new contract.
Manchester United’s four mistakes were releasing Chicharito, Van Persie & Falcao, and failing to bring in another center-back. United will need to correct these errors, as a club of this stature can not afford to remain in a long term transition period.