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Manchester United Fans Must Learn to Trust Louis van Gaal in Transfer Market

Netherlands head coach Louis van Gaal is seen prior to the international friendly soccer match between The Netherlands and Ghana at De Kuip stadium in Rotterdam, Netherlands, Saturday, May 31, 2014. (AP photo/Ermindo Armino)
Ermindo Armino/Associated Press
Paul AnsorgeFeatured Columnist IVJune 30, 2016

Louis van Gaal is not yet formally installed as Manchester United manager, and yet already his transfer market decisions are being very closely scrutinised.

Alberto Saiz/Associated Press

With the news that Barcelona are prepared to sell Cesc Fabregas, but that United are claiming not to be interested, per Matt Law's report in the Daily Telegraph, fans are again questioning the club's lack of action in the transfer market. My personal response is one of confusion, given what an excellent player Fabregas is and how serious United's midfield needs are.

United apparently turning down a move for him brings to mind the opinions of George Costanza—the perennial loser in love in the sitcom Seinfeld—of dating: “What's the point? When I like them, they don't like me. When they like me, I don't like them.”

So far this summer it seems that when United want a player, he is not available, and when a player is available, United do not want him.

The issue of trust is a delicate one for United fans at the moment. It is a precious commodity, much easier to lose than to regain. For most of his 26 years in charge, certainly most of the latter two decades, Sir Alex Ferguson held an unparalleled level of trust among the supporters, in terms of his ability to bring success to the club.

That trust was perhaps slow to build and wobbled again in the immediate aftermath of the Glazer family takeover of United, when Sir Alex's rampantly pro-Glazer stance off the pitch combined with his inexplicably pro-Eric Djemba-Djemba stance on it.

However, when it came to the winning of shiny trophies, trusting in Ferguson proved a sensible long-term strategy.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - MAY 13:  Sir Alex Ferguson addresses the crown from an open-top bus at the start of their Barclays Premier League Trophy Parade through Manchester on May 13, 2013 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

That immense account of trust has been somewhat overdrawn of late. Sir Alex was instrumental in the appointment of David Moyes, per the official club website, and his involvement in that decision was used for at least the first six months of Moyes' reign as a reason to give Moyes more time in a job at which he appeared to be dramatically failing.

The other seismic change last summer was the transition of Chief Executive from David Gill, a man who had a reputation as someone able to get deals done in the transfer market, to Ed Woodward, a man whose previous job had been concerned with commercial aspects of the club. Fans may have been confident of Woodward's ability to sign Mister Potato, but less so to help address the gaping hole in United's midfield.

Woodward's first summer at the helm was a roller coaster of transfer emotions. Linked with high-profile superstar names all summer long, United ended up only managing to scrape together an astonishingly expensive deal for Marouane Fellaini. Although the signing of Juan Mata restored some faith in the club's machinery, not enough has yet been done to restore full trust.

Van Gaal arrives at United not to take over the Champions, as Moyes did, but to take over a team that finished seventh, with no European football on offer. There were always going to be challenges in this transfer window.

But, if the truth is that he does not want Fabregas, or Toni Kroos, or any other fine player that United have been linked to, there is probably a pretty good reason.

Alexander Hassenstein/Associated Press

Van Gaal is a coach with vast experience of success. The truth is splashy, big-name signings are deeply appealing at the moment, to help prove that United's fall last season has not done permanent damage to their status. However, if Van Gaal does not feel that a particular splashy, big-name signing will fit into his system, history would suggest there is a very good chance he knows what he is doing.

There will always be room for fans to question the club and the decisions of its management. Part of the fun of supporting a team is thinking you could do a better job if you were in charge. Being emotionally invested makes you care, and that care can lead to doubt when things are not going as you think they should.

For now, though, United fans will learn to trust again. We have a manager with a proven track record of success at the highest level. We may well be in good hands.

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