At this time of the year 12 months ago, United were desperate to make signings, a task made more necessary and yet more difficult by the mess Louis Van Gaal inherited by David Moyes.
United adopted a scattergun approach and spent £150m on players, although without a proper pre-season under their belts, some of them failed to live up to expectations, while others – yes, Luke Shaw, we are looking at you – simply could not stay fit for a long enough period.
However, with all its ups and downs, last season was a steady first step in the right direction and Van Gaal’s side showed, albeit only for a couple of games, that with a few additions trophies, domestically and in Europe, are not beyond reach.
Signing Memphis Depay last month was excellent business, not only because the Dutchman is one of the most exciting players in Europe, but because of the way United conducted themselves through it.
Van Gaal said it himself, United wanted him had they not signed him he would have gone elsewhere. So United put their foot down, flexed their muscles on PSG, for Liverpool clearly were never interested, and that was that. Business like Fergie used to do before the Mendes era.
David De Gea was clearly United’s best performer over the last two seasons but, as seems evident, if he’s set on a move home to Real Madrid then best of luck to him but let’s get on with it, for lingering transfer sagas rarely help the selling club.
It is refreshing to see United prepared to play hardball with Real Madrid over the 24-year-old and there is a slim chance he might leave for free at the end of next season if United do not get what they want this summer.
However, a contingency plan must surely be in place for, if the Spaniard leaves, the last thing United need is to be scrambling around for a goalkeeper.
Hugo Lloris has made it clear he wants Champions League football and if Van Gaal does not deem Victor Valdes a reliable enough option, he could a lot worse than signing the Frenchman.
On the subject of France internationals determined to play in Europe’s elite competition next season, United seem to have won the race to Morgan Schneiderlin, who is exactly the sort of smart signing we have passed on too often in recent years.
Schneiderlin is an excellent player, knows the league and has made clear he wants to leave, which means if United don’t sing him he will probably end up strengthening one of the other top four sides.
Ed Woodward has made clear United have money to spend, therefore while spending for the sake of it would be foolish, the same could be said about allowing players to use United’s interest to squeeze a better contract out of their current clubs.
Sergio Ramos, Ilkay Gundogan and Bastian Schweinsteiger would improve any side, but if they simply hope to emulate Dani Alves and get themselves an improved deal at Real, Dortmund and Bayern then they’re not right for United.
United need to add quality as well as hunger to their ranks this summer and if last season has taught us anything is that great names do not always translate into great performances.
Next season is obviously a long way off but this summer is extremely important in the rebuilding process for United. Van Gaal has made it clear how he wants the team to train and play and his second season at the club should see United turn from also-ran into genuine title-contenders.
Trophies need to be won and anything less is a disappointment.
With the silly season in full flow it is nigh-on impossible to see through the ludicrous amount of transfer speculation that engulfs the back pages and the only certainty is that United can’t afford to get this summer wrong.
Jason Travaglini (@)