Skip to content

Van Gaal admits Manchester United need “better players” but why are they struggling to sign them?

Aug 17, 2014, 11:20 AM EDT

VanGaal AP

“I thought that before this match. When we were playing in the United States I saw the same. I know in what positions we need better players but I won’t discuss [how many].”

Those were the harsh words of Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal after the shocking 2-1 loss to Swansea City at Old Trafford to start Manchester United’s Premier League season.

With plenty of hype and promise surrounding van Gaal’s “new era” to bring the Red Devils back to European prominence, instead he picked up right where David Moyes left off.

The Dutchman knows it and we know it – Manchester United is a club usually bursting at the seams with talent, skill, and class, but at the moment the squad lacks the ability to compete at the highest level.

Van Gaal talks of adding players, but with just two weeks left in the transfer window, the club has added just two players – left-back Luke Shaw, who is injured for a month, and attacking midfielder Ander Herrera. And they’ve reportedly missed out on countless others.

The new manager has installed a brand new system featuring three center-backs, but with both starters last year Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand departing Old Trafford on account of age this summer, van Gaal has failed to add to his CB arsenal.  This left Chris Smalling, Phil Jones, and 20-year-old debutant Tyler Blackett starting against Swansea.

That flat out won’t cut it.

It’s true Ferdinand and Vidic were not longer capable of lifting United to its usual heights, and their departures were warranted. But with no one to replace them, the current crop is no better. United is reportedly tracking and working on a deal for Roma star Mehdi Benatia – which would be a fantastic capture – but they have gobs of competition for his signature, and may miss out.

The stark truth remains – nobody is flocking to Old Trafford like they used to.

There’s plenty of time for United to sign players before the end of the transfer window, that is true. But with so many names floated around in the media before moving elsewhere, the window has more of a feeling of missed targets than it does patient selectivity.

The biggest miss in van Gaal’s defender quest seems to be Thomas Vermaelen, who is a quality central defender who was unlucky to find himself behind the brilliant pairing of Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny at Arsenal. Instead of bringing the wealth of Premier League experience to Old Trafford, van Gaal instead watched Vermaelen sign for Barcelona as the Catalans continue a rebuild of their own.

Rumors of a move for Juventus box-to-box midfielder Arturo Vidal have simmered all summer, but again the club has plenty of reported competition and thus far United have failed to convince the player he even wants to leave. Years ago, that wouldn’t even be a question.

They even failed to land Dutch central defender Stefan de Vrij, as the 22-year-old signed for Lazio over Manchester United, turning down his own national team manager in the process.

All this has left Louis van Gaal brooding over the blueprints master plan, wondering where he can turn for players who are better than the club currently has. It’s no secret they need an overhaul, and the summer has come and gone without any such tilling of the land. It remains to be seen whom van Gaal can persuade to help United back to its former glory.

It would help if players would stop turning them down.

Latest Posts
  1. MLS Snapshot: New York Red Bulls 1-1 LA Galaxy

    Apr 26, 2015, 7:18 PM EDT

    DC United v New York Red Bulls Getty Images

    Final: New York Red Bulls 1-1 LA Galaxy

  2. Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal uncertain over Wayne Rooney’s knee injury

    Apr 26, 2015, 5:15 PM EDT

    Louis van Gaal & Wayne Rooney, Manchester United Louis van Gaal & Wayne Rooney, Manchester United

    Louis van Gaal unaware of the seriousness of Wayne Rooney’s injury sustained during a 3-0 loss to Everton.

  3. Bayern Munich clinches 25th Bundesliga title due to VfL Wolfsburg’s loss

    Apr 26, 2015, 4:40 PM EDT

    FC Bayern Muenchen - Training & Press Conference Getty Images

    Bayern Munich will enjoy the title as Germany’s best once again.

  4. Sunderland’s Connor Wickham hopes to slip out of closely contested relegation zone

    Apr 26, 2015, 3:45 PM EDT

    connor_wickham Getty Images

    Sunderland midfielder Connor Wickham is eyeing Premier League survival as the last month of the 2014-15 season arrives.

  5. VIDEO: Jose Mourinho positive after 0-0 draw with Arsenal

    Apr 26, 2015, 3:27 PM EDT

    Mourinho Getty Images

    Jose Mourinho was understandibly happy with his side’s defending, despite just the one point.

  6. VIDEO: Roberto Martinez pleased with Everton mentality in Manchester United win

    Apr 26, 2015, 2:54 PM EDT

    Martinez Getty Images

    Everton maintained a solid shape all game and the Toffees boss was loving it.

  7. Jose Mourinho, once again, wins tactical battle against Arsene Wenger

    Apr 26, 2015, 2:12 PM EDT

    Chelsea v Arsenal - Premier League Getty Images

    Mourinho proves his again that his nous, Chelsea’s defensive core, can halt the Gunners.

  8. VIDEO: Aron Johannsson finishes off smooth team goal in 2-0 win over Twente

    Apr 26, 2015, 1:38 PM EDT

    Johannsson Getty Images

    Johansson fed Johannsson as AZ Alkmaar picked up a big win in their chase for a Europa League spot.

  9. Three things we learned from Arsenal vs. Chelsea

    Apr 26, 2015, 1:05 PM EDT

    Arsenal v Chelsea - Premier League Getty Images

    Here’s three things we learned from the Emirates after a lively London derby.

  10. Arsenal 0-0 Chelsea: Organized Blues defending effectively ends title race

    Apr 26, 2015, 12:55 PM EDT

    ChelseaArsenal AP

    There were few good chances as Arsenal could not find a breakthrough and Chelsea opens up a 10-point table lead.

  11. Oscar headed to hospital after thunderous clash with Ospina

    Apr 26, 2015, 12:26 PM EDT

    How did Oscar not win a penalty? Getty Images

    Despite playing 30 minutes after a dangerous clash, Oscar has been sent to the hospital.

  12. Amid thrown fireworks, Torino wins first Turin derby in 20 years

    Apr 26, 2015, 11:43 AM EDT

    Torino Getty Images

    Torino picked up its first win over Juventus in 20 years, but the fans kept it from being a truly happy day.

  13. Watch Live: Arsenal vs Chelsea (Lineups and Live Stream)

    Apr 26, 2015, 10:29 AM EDT

    WengerMourinho AP

    There is no featured striker on the field for Chelsea, with Jose Mourinho instead selecting six midfielders to interchange.

  14. Everton 3-0 Manchester United: Toffees score early, snuff out visiting attack

    Apr 26, 2015, 10:20 AM EDT

    Everton Getty Images

    Manchester United had nothing to offer as Everton won its third straight against the Red Devils at Goodison Park.

  15. Who were the biggest snubs in PFA’s Premier League Team of the Season selections?

    Apr 26, 2015, 10:00 AM EDT

    Swansea City v Southampton - Premier League Getty Images

    The PFA have announced their team of the season. But should these 10 players have been involved?

Featured video

Should Chelsea be more entertaining?