Before a ball was kicked last season I was full of hope , a new manager in David Moyes and it was a no brainer to me that he’d be given an unlimited budget to spend as , despite our league win the previous season , there were gaping holes in that United squad. The reason I believed Moyes would be backed with money is that almost every new United manager before him going back to Sexton had been and also it made sense that last season was the season to buy as United were in a position of strength and were in the champions league. So it was disappointing when the season started and the only addition to our squad was Fellaini .
Now there is great excitement around Old Trafford with the appointment of Louis Van Gaal , we’ve already made twice the number of signings Moyes had at this time last year and we’ve had a great pre-season but….
Louis Van Gaal may be a miracle worker , but given our short comings last season will he be able to improve the squad strength and team performances enough to get United into the top 4 or even (with a lot of luck) win the league. United players will be eager to impress early on and Van Gaal doesn’t have to face the same early season fixture nightmare that David Moyes faced , but will it be enough and how will Van Gaal react to the constant media pressure and spotlight he’s put under . Will he publically demand cash for players – and expose the fact that the club were being penny pinching , after all if he’s expected to compete with Manchester City and Chelsea on the pitch , he has to at least have a transfer kitty approaching their kind of spending. Will Van Gaal be able to keep a lid on his own feelings as the season progresses .
Last season I was quite vocal in my support for David Moyes in so far as I wouldn’t apportion any more than 30% of the blame for United’s form on him. Most United fans are aware that our team have been getting weaker and weaker year by year ever since Roy Keane went. I remember stifling a laugh when Sir Alex Ferguson came out in 2009 and described the team about to take on Barcelona as ‘The best United squad I’ve managed’. All I had to do was look at that central midfield and laugh my socks off at this audacity and we’ve got worse ever since. Rooney played his greatest football the following season 2009/2010 , a season that should have seen United crowned champions and maybe more if it hadn’t been for two very bad and cynical fouls in the two legs against Bayern Munich. During that summer’s world cup I was hosting a football phone-in show in London with Ron Atkinson . A regular guest on that show was Peter Shreeves – a real old school football fan. Peter also knew Ferguson and had seen Ferguson a few weeks earlier . He told us he’d been chattng to Sir Alex about United’s bad luck the previous sseason and asked Sir Alex if it was worth sticking a few bob on United to win the league next year 2010/11 – according to him Sir Alex said – ‘I can guarantee you , we won’t win the league next year’. As it turned out , thanks to Man City and Chelsea’s incompetence we did and it was a shock to most reds .
Yes there’s no doubt that Moyes overly cautious approach affected United’s confidence as the season wore on and Van Gaal’s task is to pick them on and get them believing again. But the reality is , as other clubs have strengthened we are even weaker than we were last season with the departures of Vidic , Ferdinand and Evra and the retirement of Giggs. Even with 200 million quid to spend on 4 top class players , it’s going to be a tough ask to get United in the top 4 and I still have my doubts as to how much money is really being made available to the manager.
There’s been so much spin coming out of Old Trafford over the past 9 years with regards to transfer funds being available that it makes it obvious that those funds aren’t and haven’t been available. Anyone who knows about politics can read between the lines. The more something is insisted on the less likely it is to be true. A lot of United fans point the finger at Sir Alex , why didn’t he walk , why did he constantly tell United fans there was no value in the market when players that United could have signed like Ya Ya Toure and David Silva went to Man City for less than 25 million each. For Sir Alex he would have had to turn his back on a gigantic achievement – it would have been asking the manager who almost single handedly turned a club worth 10 million quid into a club worth over a billion maybe even 2 billion to give it all up – an epic achievement and one which was too big to cast aside on principle .
Louis Van Gaal may be a different kettle of fish, he’s gone to United and he probably is capable of taking what’s already in place and getting us into 4th place – but it’s a risk not only to United but also to his hard won reputation. If there are no big signings in the next two weeks and results don’t suddenly improve will United be able to keep hold of Van Gaal and once Van Gaal goes , where will that leave United and how many of our quality players will be on to their agents wanting to follow him out of the door. I received a fair amount of criticism at the end of last season for disagreeing with not only the way Moyes was sacked but the fact he was sacked before at least this Christmas , I thought he needed a chance to shape the team as my worry was that United as a club may well be jumping out of the frying pan into the fire.