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. United States wins third Women’s World Cup title, beats Japan on record-smashing day

    Jul 5, 2015, 8:51 PM EDT

    VANCOUVER, BC - JULY 05:  Carli Lloyd #10 of the United States celebrates scoring the opening goal against Japan in the FIFA Women's World Cup Canada 2015 Final at BC Place Stadium on July 5, 2015 in Vancouver, Canada.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) Getty Images

    Carli Lloyd’s hat trick and the United States’ win smashed just about every record in a huge win over Japan in the Women’s World Cup final.

  2. VIDEO: Lloyd seals amazing 16 minute hat trick with wonder goal from halfway

    Jul 5, 2015, 7:45 PM EDT

    Carli Lloyd, Lauren Holiday, Megan Rapinoe Carli Lloyd, Lauren Holiday, Megan Rapinoe

    Watch Lloyd score three times, as U.S. raced into a 4-0 lead inside the first 20 minutes.

  3. Inter Milan call out Fiorentina regarding Mohamed Salah’s transfer controversy

    Jul 5, 2015, 7:16 PM EDT

    Mohamed Salah has scored three times in his first four matches since moving to Fiorentina from Chelsea. AP

    Inter Milan released a statement defending itself as Fiorentina vice president Paolo Panerai criticized his rival in the midst of Mohamed Salah’s transfer situation.

  4. WATCH LIVE: U.S. take on Japan in Women’s World Cup final

    Jul 5, 2015, 6:14 PM EDT

    Abby Wambach, USWNT Abby Wambach, USWNT

    Watch the Women’s World Cup final live online. Kickoff at 7 p.m. ET.

  5. Hamburger SV sign defender Emir Spahic after Bayer Leverkusen terminated his contract

    Jul 5, 2015, 4:45 PM EDT

    Unknown Getty Images

    After having his contract terminated for violence with match security, Emir Spahic will play for Hamburger SV next season.

  6. Barcelona midfielder Andres Iniesta: Real Madrid won’t let Sergio Ramos leave

    Jul 5, 2015, 4:03 PM EDT

    Sergio+Ramos+Andres+Iniesta+15JUGlew7q5m Getty Images

    Despite Sergio Ramos’ transfer being heavily linked to Manchester United, rival Andres Iniesta believes the defender is going nowhere.

  7. Real Madrid and Brazil legend Roberto Carlos named manager of Delhi Dynamos

    Jul 5, 2015, 3:10 PM EDT

    Roberto Carlos Getty Images

    The Indian Super League continues to bring in the big names.

  8. Stephen Keshi sacked as Nigerian national team coach

    Jul 5, 2015, 2:22 PM EDT

    FBL-AFR-2015-NGR-SUD Getty Images

    After three stints managing the Super Eagles, Stephen Keshi is out once again.

  9. Women’s World Cup final tactics: Will United States get better of Japan?

    Jul 5, 2015, 1:35 PM EDT

    US midfielder Megan Rapinoe listens to teammates at a press conference in Vancouver on July 3, 2015, two days before the 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup final against Japan.   AFP PHOTO/NICHOLAS KAMM        (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images) Getty Images

    The U.S. defense has been unbreakable, and Japan loves to keep the ball. Something has to give in the final.

  10. Fiji smashes Micronesia 38-0…Yes, 38-0

    Jul 5, 2015, 1:15 PM EDT

    Fiji v Uzbekistan: Group F - FIFA U-20 World Cup New Zealand 2015 Getty Images

    After making some tactical changes at the break, Micronesia held Fiji to just 17 second half goals.

  11. Javier Mascherano calls Argentina’s Copa America loss “torture”

    Jul 5, 2015, 12:21 PM EDT

    FBL-COPAM2015-ARG-CHI Getty Images

    After another brutal loss in a major tournament final, Argentina’s Javier Mascherano couldn’t explain what went wrong.

  12. MLS roundup: Villa brace leads NYCFC, Diaz shines for Dallas

    Jul 5, 2015, 11:25 AM EDT

    David Villa, David Villa,

    Catch up on all six of Saturday night’s MLS matches, right here.

  13. Could England women’s manager Mark Sampson be headed to the Premier League?

    Jul 5, 2015, 9:30 AM EDT

    Mark Sampson AP

    At 32 years of age, Sampson impressed many by leading England to a third-place finish in the Women’s World Cup.

  14. Sepp Blatter claims French and German presidents influenced World Cup voters

    Jul 5, 2015, 8:34 AM EDT

    Blatter AP

    Sepp’s not going down without a fight, now bringing major political leaders into the mix.

  15. WATCH: Robbie Keane nets hat trick, Kaka sees red in Saturday night MLS action

    Jul 5, 2015, 7:44 AM EDT

    Toronto FC v Los Angeles Galaxy Getty Images

    On the Fourth of July, there were fireworks all across Major League Soccer.

  16. United States, Japan meet in Women’s World Cup final with high hopes back home

    Jul 5, 2015, 7:40 AM EDT

    A view of the BC Place stadium in Vancouver on July 4, 2015 on the eve of the 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup final football match USA vs Japan. AFP PHOTO / FRANCK FIFE        (Photo credit should read FRANCK FIFE/AFP/Getty Images) Getty Images

    Both countries hope that this final will help bring further attention to the women’s game.

  17. Heather O’Reilly talks revenge on Japan, adjusting to bench role

    Jul 5, 2015, 4:51 AM EDT

    USA midfielder Heather O'Reilly (R) takes part in a training session at the BC Place stadium in Vancouver on July 4, 2015 on the eve of the 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup final football match USA vs Japan. AFP PHOTO / FRANCK FIFE        (Photo credit should read FRANCK FIFE/AFP/Getty Images) Getty Images

    Olympic gold medals are great, but this group wants a World Cup title.

Featured video

PST Extra: Done deals & transfer gossip