When Louis van Gaal entered his first press conference as Manchester United manager, there was one topic that hung in fan’s minds, player departures and player arrivals. One of the worst parts of David Moyes’ tenure as Manchester United manager was his work in the summer transfer window, so fans are understandably anxious to see what van Gaal will do differently. He has already strengthened his squad with quality additions, such as Luke Shaw, and Ander Herrera, while letting unpopular players, like Alex Buttner, leave, but given the signings that other teams have made this summer, fans want to see van Gaal’s long-term plan.
Van Gaal responded to questions well, answering defiantly without setting expectations too high. He knows that United require rebuilding but he has not balked at the task, something that cannot be said of Moyes. Van Gaal is known for being a confident manager, and he will have filled the United faithful with the same confidence. Despite calls for several players to be offloaded, van Gaal has said that he will give his players the chance to see if they can fit into his philosophy. He also said that he would not be buying additionals player until he sees where the team is strongest, and where the team is weakest. He added that he approved the signings of Shaw and Herrera because he agreed that they would be quality additions, but he will not be rushing to make any new signings and could take as long as four weeks to make another one. Although United desperately need strengthening in certain areas, I think that van Gaal is making a wise decision.
One of the biggest complaints about Moyes’ transfer policy is that he seemed unable to resist fan’s pressure to make signings. Yes, United needed to sign players, but he did not sign anyone on his terms and ended up overspending when he bought players. This made transfer windows terrible for the fans because the weaknesses of the squad are easily identifiable, yet Moyes opted to throw money at the situation, rather than try to fix it with strategic signings. Both Shaw and Herrera have been expensive signings, but van Gaal gives the illusion that overspending will not be the same issue that it was under Moyes. It is also important that he identifies his squad’s strengths because most players were a shadow of themselves under Moyes. Many were played out of position, or they were not given a run of games to develop confidence. Obviously a preseason won’t tell van Gaal everything about a player, but it certainly allows him the chance to gauge which players are up for the challenge.
Another important part about players being able to prove their worth is that it allows all of them the chance to develop team spirit. Instead of being afraid of getting sold, players will now be out to impress their new manager. There is nothing worse than the fear that you might be replaced based off of the previous season. For instance, Marouane Fellaini looked a lot better at the World Cup than he did in his first season at United. Although I don’t think he is a player that van Gaal will keep, it is important for team unity that each player gets a chance to prove themselves, even the ones who did not perform well last season.
Van Gaal has said that his immediate goal is to get Manchester United back to where they belong. He is not content with them finishing fourth, he wants them to be competing for the title. The fact he isn’t trying to fix the situation by throwing money at it illustrates that in the few days he has been at United, he has already begun to learn the structure of everything. As I have said repeatedly, this season under van Gaal should be one that all United fans look forward to.