Main Manchester United mistakes this summer
While Manchester United are 14/1 to win the Premier League this season, had they done things differently earlier in the summer, their odds could be a lot shorter.
From the minute Louis van Gaal was appointed as boss, the sensationalists started linking the club with every top player across Europe.
One major mistake the manager made was waiting until the last week of the transfer window to make a purchase that, as with Marouane Fellaini last season, screams desperation. There is no doubting Angel Di Maria’s ability, however the club already have a player of his ilk in Juan Mata, who they signed for almost £40m in January.
It was good that Van Gaal came in with a vision to change to a 3-4-1-2 system, and there is no reason why that formation won’t be successful given time. After all, it took Brendan Rodgers at least half a season to implement a subtle strategy switch when he took the Liverpool job.
What the Dutchman should have done is already had targets in mind who could come into the squad and effortlessly fit into his way of playing. As well as this, Van Gaal needed players already accustomed to a league similar in style and intensity of the Premier League.
Perhaps the only one that can match the physicality is the Bundesliga. With Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic both moving on at the end of last term, centre backs were high priority. Having won the World Cup with Germany, Mats Hummels should have been earmarked as a top target.
Proven in both penalty areas, with an eye for goal and a defensive clearance, as well as an ability to dominate his opposition, he would have easily filled the void left by Vidic. Borussia Dortmund would have sold for the right price, quite possibly around the £40m mark (30 percent more than they paid for Ferdinand); however, aged 25, would have offered a similar return on investment, appropriately accounting for inflation.
It is further forward where the problem has been evident at United for years. Having never effectively replaced the steel offered by Roy Keane, Chilean box-to-box midfielder Arturo Vidal has been linked all summer and it is a move that could materialise by the end of the transfer window.
However, unlike Chelsea, who did their business early, Van Gaal won’t have time to integrate any new signings into the team with the new campaign already underway. With the window still open, the Manchester United management team must attempt to apply damage limitation where necessary. Having collected just one point from two league matches, it is by no means a disaster, and the correct decisions now can change the course of their campaign, with a top four place a priority, which they are evens to achieve.