Louis van Gaal can breathe a sigh of relief as his new signings propelled his squad towards a much needed first win of his Manchester United managerial career.
With players returning from injury, Marcos Rojo finally acquiring a work permit, Rademel Falcao and Daley Blind available for selection, questions arose regarding whether Van Gaal would stick with the 5-3-2 formation or adopt a new tactic to cater to the new signings. For the moment, Van Gaal reverted back to a four-man defence with Rafael and Rojo in the fullback position, while Evans and Blackett played centrally. In the middle, Van Gaal went with a diamond shape; Daley Blind was the sole pivot, Angel di Maria and Ander Herrera manned the flanks, with the latter returning from injuries, and Mata – whose inclusion came under question with the Falcao signing – was head of the diamond. Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie remained the two main strikers in a 4-4-2, meaning Falcao would make an appearance off the bench.
There’s an old saying in football that you can only beat what is put in front of you. Yesterday afternoon, Manchester United did exactly that, by dismantling a QPR side that will already be early favourites to go down at the culmination of the Premier League season.
The result was met with the standard, unbalanced, views of fans from clubs across the league, positively seething at the fact that United had sparkled so brightly once again and sent out a warning shot to our closest rivals.
It is an often repeated mantra that Manchester United don’t buy super stars, they make them.
Ronaldo, Vidic, Scholes, Giggs, Beckham, Solskjaer… the list goes on and on. But desperate times call for desperate measures and after a fragile start to the season and a second consecutive finish outside the top 4 a very real possibility, Ed Woodward ripped up the traditional United strategy and went big. In fact, the biggest British football has ever seen.
But in some quarters, this sudden outburst of spending is seen to be counterintuitive. In fact, it was Louis van Gaal himself who bemoaned the amount of attacking players United’s squad boasted. It was imbalanced and a tricky jigsaw to piece together. Yet, once again the Old Trafford executives have brought in two attacking players and further selection headaches for the Dutch manager to contend with.
So, for the first time in what seems like decades, United fans were left breathless by a summer transfer window. Either the Glazer family had just discovered the addictive drug of Football Manager, or they finally realised that Van Gaal’s squad needed a major injection of cash. Yet, for all the exhilarating action of the final weeks of the window, the previous months had offered little to suggest any excitement.
The early months of June and July began at a calm pace. Dead wood was shed as Alex Buttner was shown the exit and long term targets Luke Shaw and Ander Herrera, of fake lawyer fame, were quickly signed up, albeit for what seemed inflated prices. Nonetheless it was a strong and stable start. Ed Woodward, United’s much maligned head transfer honcho, had identified key areas for strengthening and had acted quickly to shore up defence and midfield.
Phil Jones out for a month
In today’s press conference Louis Van Gaal revealed that Phil Jones is the latest to hand in his sick note, taking United’s total number of injuries to nine.
“Fellaini is more than a month away, Jones maybe three weeks or a month,” said Van Gaal.
“Carrick isn’t ready but has run for the first time on grass.”
“Johnstone has elbow problems, Smalling isn’t fit enough, Wilson and James are not ready yet. Young and Lingard are also injured,” added the United manager.
The boss had some positive news, claiming that Luke Shaw is fit and will be able to make his debut on Sunday.
It is unclear whether United will still continue with three in defence on Sunday or whether it will be a four man back line, throwing new signings Marcos Rojo and Daley Blind in at the deep end.
Regardless, it must be questioned what on earth is going on in the fitness department at United.
It was almost the perfect story. Little lad growing up in Longsight, joins the the club he supports at eight years old, progresses through the academy and finally bursts into the first team at only 17. Everything followed the script wonderfully. All that was left was for Danny to cement his place in the first team and eventually retire at the club he had supported at eight years old.
Seeing Danny Welbeck leave Manchester United cuts deeper than Moira Stewart’s sacking from BBC News. As devastating as watching Ainsley Harriott smile at the camera or watching Youtube compilations of Steve Irwin.
No, no he’s not. That was a lie. Though some might be cynical enough to believe that the headline was used as a crude ploy to draw in readers they will be categorically and absolutely correct.
Tom Cleverley is not the saviour of Manchester United, Tom Cleverley was the kid that promised much and delivered almost nothing.
As the dust finally begins to settle on the schizophrenic hyperbole that is transfer deadline day, Manchester United appear to be a complete different proposition to what they were 10 days ago, let alone when compared to the team Louis Van Gaal took charge of in July.
If Ander Herrera and Luke Shaw were a promising first date back in June, Marcos Rojo the long overdue call for a second meeting and Angel Di Maria the – extremely expensive – first dinner out and Daley Blind the movie date that followed the meal, then the arrival of Radamel Falcao was undoubtedly the moment in which the girl United had not even dared to look at for fear of rejection invited the club back to her place.