Since Louis Van Gaal’s appointment at Manchester United, the rumour mill has gone into overdrive linking the club with almost every eligible player in Europe.
With the club in a precarious situation after Ferguson’s retirement and David Moyes’ subsequent tenure, it has become normal for the media to hit the red button and cry SPEND, SPEND, SPEND!
But without Champions League action next season United will face fewer fixtures. Chief Executive Ed Woodward may instead look to trim the squad rather than spend big in this window.
And Van Gaal’s spells at Ajax and Barcelona also suggest he is more likely to discard a high profile star than sign one, and will instead prefer to promote from within.
At first, Van Gaal may limit his horizons to his Dutch World Cup squad to help transmit his demanding philosophy to his new pupils. Robin Van Persie, his favourite, is already in situ. And another loyal general, Roma’s Kevin Strootman, is expected to sign by January.
So a defensive signing is likely. Admittedly Twitter is alive with rumours of Arturo Vidal’s and Kevin Strootman imminent arrivals. And when asked recently by a journalist, Ed Woodward said United would be willing to break the British transfer record to secure a player.
But if United are unsuccessful in pursuing Vidal, don’t expect Woodward to move on and splash the funds elsewhere, a la Fellaini last summer. Beyond Blind’s arrival or perhaps Thomas Vermaelen, Van Gaal’s overhaul will be more organic.
Like at previous clubs, the Dutchman won’t offer immediate success or opt for the quick fix of an eye catching signing. Instead it will be a more gradual overhaul than maybe supporters would expect.
But if Van Gaal can discard the deadweight of previous regimes and introduce more graduates; then this will better serve United in the long term than any £50 million splurge in an inflated market.
Alan Casey, Pundit Arena.