The Manchester United management brain trust is currently under fire with fans after the 1-2 loss to Swansea to open the EPL season and the drought of quality transfer signings. Red Devils fans have stormed twitter with #GlazersOut and the low murmur of discontent is becoming a loud rumble. The Glazers have never endeared themselves to United fans, despite five Premier League championships under their stewardship. The club debt incurred when the family muscled their way into their ownership stake rubbed many fans the wrong way and the feeling is always just beneath the surface. Whenever the club hits a rough patch, the anti-Glazer sentiments begin to overflow.
For those fans looking for a speedy turnaround from last season’s seventh place EPL finish, the current circumstances do not appear helpful. Louis van Gaal is very methodical in his managing approach. He has a set of requirements for each position on the pitch. Although his history suggests he will be successful, his teams often struggle in the beginning as his players adapt to their new requirements and those who cannot are replaced. The FIFA World Cup Finals were certainly a complicating factor as van Gaal was largely consumed with his Netherlands duties earlier in the summer. Finally, van Gaal’s businesslike and methodical approach necessitated a thorough evaluation of his current squad to assess the players’ ability to adapt to his style.
In others words, van Gaal arrived at the Aon Training Complex already behind schedule and then struck out on a U.S. tour. The problem now is that time is tight before the transfer window closes and jumping into the market in any major way will require the Red Devils to overpay. If the Glazers and Ed Woodward hold the line on salaries and transfer fees to market value, the Old Trafford club will likely be shut out from any significant transfer splash. First, top players want to play Champions League football. United must pay some sort of premium to make up for this deficiency. Second, with the window about to shut the teams with players potentially on the move can see United’s need and lack of time. Real knows United is hot for Angel DiMaria and will make the Red Devils pay top dollar to secure him. Finally, Ed Woodward’s prior statements about United’s willingness to break transfer records will surely come back to haunt him as he strives to strike a bargain. The Manchester United brain trust is caught in a box and cannot end the transfer drought without paying exorbitant fees to avoid taking fire from their fans.
Manchester United appears in good financial shape, particularly with the Chevrolet sponsorship and the Adidas kit deal. The Glazer debt continues to be paid down. Nevertheless, a major investment is necessary in order for van Gaal to field a team which is competitive for the EPL championship. The stunning U.S. tour results were probably illusory given that teams such as Real were not overly concerned with winning as much as avoiding injury. In order to for the Manchester United brain trust to avoid unfriendly fire from their fan base, they must strongly consider overpaying for talent in order to break the transfer drought. The Marcos Rojo signing is a good start.
Commentary by William Costolo