On the eve of breaking a British transfer record fee for Argentine winger, Angel Di Maria who signed on the dotted line in a deal worth £59.7million from Real Madrid, Manchester United suffered a humiliating 4-0 loss to League One outfit, MK Dons.
Having brought in Louis van Gaal to rectify a disastrous tenure under David Moyes, the Old Trafford faithful were expecting a swift return to form and forcing their way back into the top four of the Premier League: an idea backed by many journalists and pundits. But the problems within the United squad are lingering and becoming more prominent as the season begins, with an ageing squad and extraordinary contracts being handed out.
Van Gaal must balance the demands of a number of players who all occupy the same position on the pitch. Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie (who appears to have reached his peak in Sir Alex Ferguson’s final season as manager) are yet to show signs of a devestating partnership, as they both appear to occupy the same position when playing and struggle to find unity. Juan Mata, a luxury signing back in January also occupies a number 10 position. But a front three of Mata, Rooney, and Van Persie lacks one major component: pace.
Angel Di Maria will be expected to provide this pace, but with the three primary attacking positions occupied in the 3-4-1-2 that van Gaal appears to favour, where does the Champions League winner fit in? Even if the shape of the team changes to 4-3-3 or 4-2-3-1, one of United’s four major attacking threats on large wages will be either out of position, or causing imbalance to the side.
But even though Di Maria is a world class talent, it won’t cover up United’s major deficincies in squad depth, central defence, right back, and in the midfield. Their midfield lacks creativity, dynamic movement, and presence. The problems that United currently face is being over-looked by many fans and pundits; and it appears the board too. The money being thrown at players is a dangerous game, and could have been invested in the right players elsewhere as opposed to big money signings.
United will certainly cause more of a threat in attack, but Louis van Gaal will face an incredibily tough task to get the 20 time champions of England back into Europe’s elite competition.