After absorbing a 2-1 loss to Swansea at Old Trafford in its English Premier League opener, the deficiencies of Louis van Gaal’s Red Devil side were available for all to see. In order to right the ship, Manchester United will need to correct its transfer failures as soon as possible. The squad appears to need help at center back, center midfield and the attack. Van Gaal had the opportunity to evaluate his players during the U.S. tour and has said he will not make changes without undertaking his own evaluation. Apparently, the success in the U.S. could have been fool’s gold as the side does not appear ready to stand as an EPL contender without additional transfer help.
Manchester United has been linked to big name players on the move all summer. From Toni Kroos, to Mats Hummels, to Juan Cuadrado and finally Arturo Vidal to name just a few, the list is long and the Red Devils have little to show for the attention. Outside of signing young Luke Shaw and Ander Herrera, United has been quiet. Although van Gaal wished to evaluate his squad prior to a possible extensive overhaul, the fact that the team has been so slow to sign new talent creates questions regarding intent and strategy. Ed Woodward recently opined that United could shatter the EPL transfer record for signings, which certainly does not help the club’s negotiating stance when bargaining over transfer fees. Similarly, waiting until the last moment to conduct transfer business could cause transfer prices to increase, particularly if United is over a barrel with a poor start to the EPL season.
United remains a marketing and moneymaking juggernaut. Nevertheless, the goose that laid the golden egg will stop producing unless the Red Devils start winning with regularity. Some question whether Ed Woodward is up for the job given the recent trend of transfer failures for Manchester United, which could be corrected quickly if he is given the resources and conducts level headed negotiations. Given Woodward’s declarations about United’s transfer budget and ability to break records, the Red Devils may have to pay a premium to add quality talent at the end of the transfer window. Their most willing partners will be teams who are looking to balance the books. Although Juventus has been rumored to have a need for a cash infusion, the need does not appear to be serious enough to part with Vidal.
Perhaps the gargantuan transfer budget is being held up by the Glazer brothers such that no more large transfer fees will be paid unless absolutely necessary. If that is the case, the results against Swansea could be the jolt to loosen the purse strings. In addition to satisfying their legions of loyal fans, United must also work to keep Chevrolet and Addidas happy. If the Red Devils do undertake a transfer rampage, they would upgrade the side and buy some time for the squad to gel. The Glazers may need to create a splash with transfer signings along the lines of Arturo Vidal, Angel Di Maria and Mats Hummels, which would also conveniently correct some serious deficiencies.
Before the transfer window slams shut, Manchester United will need to make some fast decisions and correct their transfer failures. Louis van Gaal cannot afford to stand pat and expect success in his first EPL season. In part because of his prior bluster and in part because of timing, Ed Woodward may find that he will have to induce the Glazers to pay a premium to land an additional quality transfer or two. The problem is United’s own making and the correction must come fast for a successful season to occur.
Commentary by William Costolo