Whilst Louis Van Gaal was only confirmed as Manchester United manager on Monday afternoon, last week The Guardian reported that Louis Van Gaal shouldered Manchester United’s executive vice chairman Ed Woodward with the responsibility to carry out summer business with a primary list of summer targets, whilst the Dutchman attempts his best to give the Dutch people some Dutch success at the World Cup before he indefinitely departs.
All of the names were reportedly prescribed in an A, B and C wish list, sorted by likelihood and realistic prospect of acquisition. Following up a horrendous season will have its effects immediately when they have no part to play in the Champions League, or second tier consolation of Europa League football. This will purely play as a major factor in any high-profile summer signings, who will involuntarily have to put all their faith in Van Gaal reviving European presence in time for the start of the 2015/2016 campaign at the very earliest, and hopefully very latest.
With all of these world-class names in the A list managing to make it to Brazil in the summer for their respective countries, it already exemplifies how talented and assured Van Gaal must be to know that they will be the additions that make the difference in turning United’s fortunes faster than a wind turbine in a hurricane could.
Luke Shaw is the first name in that list. As he may not be a primary Van Gaal target for one, it is clear that the new man won’t stand in the way of acquiring a younger breed of left-back, albeit England’s brightest, to challenge Patrice Evra for one whose vast experience will be essential all-round in a campaign that Vidic, Ferdinand and Giggs won’t be participating in. With a suggested £27m bid already put in, it remains hard even at that hefty price tag for a teenager that Shaw would not pay every penny of that value off within the next few years. It wasn’t very long ago that Rio Ferdinand himself justified the price Ferguson paid for him to become one of the Premier League’s complete central defenders. Shaw looks to be heading down that same path.
Another quality name that was set as a Moyes’ target was Toni Kroos. Although continued speculation had suggested even during Moyes’ reign that he was United-bound, the bonds for which will only now grow stronger as the managerial experience at United has grown stronger. The much criticised position of central midfield would be blessed with a breath of fresh air if the Bayern man, who has yet to agree a new contract that ends next summer, leaves the philosophy of Guardiola for the philosophy-obsessed Van Gaal.
The Bavarian must show nothing but gratitude to Van Gaal, who was in fact the man who handed Thomas Müller his debut for Bayern Munich, and has become a pivotal and omnipresent figure in the German and Bayern side. This season less than most under the leadership of Guardiola has Mueller featured in, which remains puzzling as the German man is as big an asset as he is in attacking midfield, the right flank or even sweating as a striker. Robert Lewandowski’s arrival in the summer may restrict the latter role even further, but it remains an unbreakable bond and an exceptional promise by Van Gaal to tempt Mueller to leave the German Giants.
Standing firm besides Müller would be Arjen Robben, who even given the opportunity would be reluctant in leaving this Bayern side. Better things are to come next season, and where else for the 30-year-old Dutchman to be trickling his way into Guardiola’s good books than on the wing? No doubt would he walk straight into United’s starting line up given the atrocious quality and consistency that Antonio Valencia, Ashley Young and Nani have provided for United over some years from out wide. Although, it would remain extremely hard to tie down Robben, fellow compatriot of Robin van Persie, to move to Old Trafford – despite however unfinished his business with the Premier League is.
The only respectable way to replace Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic’s presence would be with a naturally world-class centre back. Dortmund’s Mats Hummels provides just that, and with United missing a large amount of experience with now only Chris Smalling, Jonny Evans and Phil Jones remaining as first team centre-backs, it will be up to Van Gaal to decide whether a trio of quality yet inconsistently match-fit range of players will be enough to suffice for the entirety of next season. Hummels, two times Bundesliga winner, even at 25 can provide that with the experience that he has gained as a defender for both club and country.
A stat worth remembering is that Van Gaal has won a trophy with every club that he has managed so far. It will be seen as one of his greater challenges to bring the success back to Old Trafford within a relatively short-lived managerial stint of at least three years at United.
It won’t be the Champions League that is Van Gaal’s first trophy if next season will be the success that he so dearly will want to bring to the Theatre of Dreams immediately. The FA Cup and Capital One Cup could perhaps pose as silverware that would be the monkey off Van Gaal’s back, or idioms aside, an unsettled Wayne Rooney piggybacking his way out of Old Trafford.
The much acclaimed top four spot that David Moyes never sat on will have to become a trophy in itself. After much general mockery of Arsenal for being safe for it, it’ll have to be the Gunners that the Red Devils have to knock off that perch for one season only. Slowly but surely can United creep back into the picture of success, and it may have to take a pinch of patience for that to happen. That being said, just a pinch – not a greedy handful like it was as big a smokescreen as ever last season.
Louis Van Gaal’s ability to quieten a dressing room with his sole winning presence already has him one step ahead of his Scottish predecessor.
By Abdullah Mamaniyat
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