Guest writer Iain Anderson, of Why Say Anything fame, gives his take on Manchester United’s misses in the transfer market this summer.
There seems to be an opinion at the moment that footballers don’t want to go to Manchester United because of Louis van Gaal.
One example quoted is Pedro, who seemingly spoke to Victor Valdes who criticised van Gaal for his treatment of himself and David De Gea, which apparently dissuaded Pedro from moving to Old Trafford.
Another example is the treatment of Angel Di Maria before he left for Paris Saint-Germain.
All I can say is that, if the thought of a bit of discipline from a manager like van Gaal is going to put off a player from moving to United, then that was not a player who was needed anyway.
Taken in context the complainants actually have very little cause for complaint. Valdes refused to play for the U21s, then posted pictures of the two occasions previous when he did play for them. What did he expect van Gaal to do? Ignore this and carry on as normal so that, the next time a player decided he didn’t want to play for the U21s, there would be nothing he could do about it?
De Gea wants to go to Real Madrid. That being the case, whether or not he is in the right frame of mind to play for United is unclear, but van Gaal says he isn’t. That’s it, end of argument.
By the time Di Maria was coming to the end of his short career at United he was playing badly, was substituted and then suffered the final embarrassment of losing his place to Ashley Young – a player most United fans would have been glad to see the back of in the relatively recent past.
So, players won’t go to United because of van Gaal and his treatment of them.
How the heck did Ferguson manage to get so many to go there then? He fell out with Beckham, he fell out with Keane, Stam, Ince, van Nistelrooy and latterly with Rooney. None of this ever appeared to be an issue when he wanted to sign someone. I don’t ever remember a player not going to Old Trafford because he didn’t like the way Ferguson treated his players.
I remember most players wanting to go to Old Trafford because United were serial winners. Maybe this is the real problem at the moment. There was never a guarantee that United would win the league or the cup or any trophy but, with Ferguson in charge, there was always a good chance it would happen. Louis van Gaal, despite his exploits at his other clubs, hasn’t yet reached the level where players expect to win something by going to United.
Another possible reason for the no shows could be the “Ed Woodward factor”. I cannot bring myself to stoop so low as to feel sorry for him, after all he is a very wealthy individual and, in other areas, has been responsible for a lot of money going into the United coffers. He does, however, seem to be a little out of his depth in the transfer market.
I don’t believe, for example, that Pedro would have ended up at Chelsea had David Gill been conducting operations. With the exception of the transfer business already done, for which there was little, if any, competition, Woodward hasn’t come through with one single deal when another club has been interested. Otamendi went to City. United of course were never interested. Pedro went to Chelsea, United had already lost interest by that time. It is a recurrent theme. Whenever a player in whom United have an interest goes elsewhere, United either, “ never had any interest”, or “lost interest”. Even last summer, van Gaal apparently “pulled the plug” on a deal for Toni Kroos, just weeks before he turned up at Real Madrid.
Whatever the reason for top class players not pitching up at United, the club needs to identify why this is the case. If it is just the players making excuses because they want to go elsewhere then fine, it can happen. If it is because of the way van Gaal is perceived to treat his players then , as I said earlier, United don’t need this player that much. If, however, it is for a reason whereby United can be deemed to be at fault, then they need to correct it as soon as possible.