Azonto Epistle 35: Manchester United is in Danger of Losing its Identity Under Luis Van Gaal
The biggest ever transfer window in English Premier League’s history has just gone by. Over £800M was spent among the clubs with Manchester United topping the chart along with Liverpool, Chelsea and Arsenal. The total expenditure according to the BBC is bigger than 19 countries combined GDP. In a league full of great sponsors, and the richest in the world it’s not too surprising but what is surprising is a certain Manchester United who won the League only the other season ago under the legendary manager, Sir Alex Ferguson, sacking his replacement immediately for not being able to make use of the squad that won the league and bringing in a supposedly more experience and astitute manager Luis Van Gaal to maintain the status and identity of the club as Sir Alex Ferguson did.
Let’s remind ourselves that in the build up to the appointment of David Moyes “The Chosen One”, Jose Mourinho then at Real Madrid was thought to have been ruled out because Manchester United possessed an identity that could be damaged by the supposedly unstable Jose Mourinho whose expensive player acquisition when he comes to your club, featured prominently in the argument. Yes, Manchester United remains the most iconic English club since it toppled Liverpool. Sir Alex Ferguson made sure that he protected that identity. Hence, “The Chosen One” a name given by Manchester United fans to spite Jose Mourinho and his popular name of “The Special One”, on the night when Jose Mourinho visited Old Trafford, the fans hoisted the banner boldly at the Stetford End and sang the name of the Chosen One so high when Jose appeared, just to clearly demonstrate how they loved the appointment of the Chosen One and not the Special One. Many Manchester United legends and old players too added their voice to the appointment by always bringing in the comparison of Jose Mourinho.
One thing David Moyes will always be admired of was the patience and the belief he had in Sir Alex Feguson’s squad of players to the extent that, he made sure he kept them all and added only a couple to the team (Fellaini and Later Mata). That was the kind of smooth transition envisaged by the club and its stake holders leading to the appointment of David Moyes who shares the ideals of Sir Alex Ferguson. Darren Fletcher, Michael Carrick, Wayne Rooney, Phil Jones, John Evan, Smalling, Young, Welbeck are the core of British talent Ferguson kept in this squad. Ferguson has kept faith in these players true thick and thin and it has been one of the key identity of Manchester United for long. You can never talk of many of the British finest players without mentioning Manchester United. To Ferguson and even Moyes who took charge later on, they know Thiago Silva is better than Phil Jones, Smalling or Evans, and Manchester United could well afford to lure him but prefer to keep faith with those lads. Sir Alex knew of the availability of Falcao, yet when Wayne Rooney provoked him to the hilt, he still kept him. He continued to keep faith in Daniel Welbeck even when he was not scoring too often as a striker. After Ferguson has taken so much pain in raising Welbeck to the level of being called up to the English national team which has been one of the objectives of the legendary manager as far as his service to the country where he earns his living is concerned, it was shocking and ironic that on a day Welbeck was in the camp of the Three Lions, Luis Van Gaal sells the 24 year old to Arsenal. Erasing all the hardworking done by Sir Alex Ferguson. In his replacement is Radamel Falcao, a 28/29/30 year old (depending on which of his records you believe) striker on loan from Monaco and on a staggering £340000 wages and fee which Real Madrid and Man City even refused. To sell 24 year old English talent for a 28/29/30year old player who has just recovered from a serious injury smacks of not desperation but lack of vision which should have been seen in a manger like Van Gaal and most importantly a total aberration from the identity and core status quo by the iconic English club.
Today, the Manchester United players who won the League and of which many are now in their peak are criticised and embarrassed as if they know nothing about playing football. If Luis Van Gaal will buy Angel Di Maria for £60M, Ander Herrera, Falcao and Daley Blind, to save himself of his job, then David Moyes could have stayed because he showed courage and bravery. And there is no way he could not have achieved if the club had given him the chance to go on a spending spree like Van Gaal has done. This Machester United team is the most expensive and if trophies are bought as their city neighbours Man City are accused of, then United are about to buy the titles under Van Gaal.
Teams like Chelsea, Arsenal and Man City are exempted from such criticism because; they have shown from the start what their transfer policy is. For Manchester United, Luis Van Gaal in his quest to install his 3-5-2 philosophy is in line of breaking the identity of the club and the sale of Danny Welbeck to Arsenal and signing Radamel Falcao is just the beginning.
By Seth Aborah Adusei (Twitter @sethaadusei)