Manchester United Manager Louis van Gaal is assessing player performance before deciding which ones get caught in a potential record breaking tsunami transfer wave. Ever the watchful analyst, van Gaal wants to have the Red Devils try to play according to his methods prior to making a decision regarding who must leave to make way for replacements more adaptable to his style. While van Gaal is not tied to a particular formation, he does have a list of priorities for each position and a method to lead the attack which emphasizes transition play and forcing opponents to offer attack angles.
Manchester United have been relatively quiet in the transfer window thus far. The signings of Luke Shaw and Ander Herrera have barely made a dent in the rumored £150 and £220 million transfer budget. Current accounts of the team list Bebe, Wilfred Zaha, Ashley Young, Javier Hernandez, Luis Nani, Maourone Fellaini, Tom Cleverley, Nick Powell and Anderson Oliveiri as playing on very short leashes as candidates for possible release. The current U.S. tour offers those players a short reprieve if they can prove to van Gaal their worthiness in playing his system. If they cannot measure up in van Gaal’s assessment, Ed Woodward opines that the Old Trafford club has the immediately available resources to allow Manchester United to undertake a potential wave of transfers in order to bolster the side with players to van Gaal’s liking. Woodward does not dispute that the transfer wave could break a Premier League record in terms of cost.
If some or all of the players on van Gaal probation are shown the door, United will have precious little time to secure the transfers of new blood and have any sort of practice time before the opening Premier League match against Swansea on August 16. The players may be forced to introduce themselves to each other as they walk onto the pitch. Louis van Gaal is known as a slow starter. Commencing the season with major components to the club just signing on likely signals that van Gaal’s slow start history will repeat itself. Those expecting immediate success will probably be disappointed as van Gaal’s systematic and studious approach to player departures and signings limits pre-season preparation with the entire squad.
The list of players subject to transfer by Manchester United leads to speculation that preferred targets will include wing players and midfielders. United have been linked to Real Madrid’s Angel Di Maria for quite some time now. Many observers believe Di Maria to be available to help fund Real’s acquisition of James Rodriguez. Competition for Di Maria likely includes Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain. Nigel De Jong of AC Milan has also been rumored to be a van Gaal target as well as Sami Khedira, also with Real Madrid.
In all likelihood, several of the players lining up for United once the transfer window closes will be different from those touring the U.S. at the moment. As Louis van Gaal assesses his squad in live action, he can determine which players will avoid being caught up in a potential Manchester United transfer wave. Ed Woodward and fans of the team are waiting to see who stays and who might replace those who depart.
Commentary by William Costolo