Louis van Gaal believes he has inherited a "broken" squad at Manchester United, but the newly installed manager won't be forced into making new signings "for the sake of it," according to reports.
The Dutchman has enjoyed victories over LA Galaxy and Roma during the club's tour of the US, warm-up wins that have seen United deploy a transitional 3-5-2 formation.
Van Gaal told Sky Sports he knows the squad is in poor shape after years of neglect, as reported by Ian Ladyman of the Daily Mail:
I had to follow Bobby Robson at Barcelona the year after he won three titles and there wasn't a problem. When there is success you have a very good squad, and now I have to follow and the squad was broken I think.
It is not in balance. It's more difficult to succeed in a difficult situation than in a fantastic situation.
Van Gaal sanctioned moves for Ander Herrera and Luke Shaw before officially joining up with the club. The latter is currently being forced to train alone in order to reach the fitness standards expected of him, per Mark Ogden of the Telegraph. Despite United's obvious need for at least one world-class centre-back and strengthening across midfield, Van Gaal isn't going to waste his money.
"I don't buy players for the sake of it. I buy players to improve my selection," Van Gaal told Sky Sports, reported via Ladyman. "First, I must see what I need in all the positions from the system we shall play and, at this moment, I don't know for sure."
Shaw appears to be a key component of the formation switch, where he acts as a left wing-back in a busy United team. With Patrice Evra heading to Juventus and Alexander Buttner moving to Dynamo Moscow, Shaw is the side's only natural left-back with Premier League experience, meaning he is set for real responsibility at the age of 19.
He cost the club a hefty £27 million, but he can repay this fee with a successful career at Old Trafford. Should United receive a decade's worth of quality service the price tag will be seen as a steal, even if Jose Mourinho believes the sum would have "killed" Chelsea, as reported by the Press Association and via Yahoo Eurosport.
Van Gaal is refusing to get sucked into his former colleague's mind games, instead saying, "I don't think I will fall out with him. He is my friend," per the aforementioned report. "For me (mind games) are not so interesting. I have to manage my club."
Both United's squad and the fans will quickly be getting used to Van Gaal's ways. He is a stern manager, someone who isn't afraid to speak honestly and is already highlighting he is in charge. Predecessor David Moyes often felt at the mercy of his players, while Van Gaal's decision to pinpoint Shaw's lack of fitness underlines a character whose tough love can improve United's output.
He is dealing with a selection that Sir Alex Ferguson and Moyes should be criticised for, as neither managed to address the club's midfield problems. Instead, signings such as Robin van Persie and Juan Mata were added—both of whom amount to excellent, yet luxurious captures at their times of arrival—meaning Van Gaal has to work out how to effectively slot together his top stars.
Samuel Luckhurst of the Huffington Post also believes Van Gaal's comments should be taken with the old managers in mind:
Ultimately, Van Gaal's tenure will be judged on how quickly he returns United to the Champions League, and if he manages to win trophies after this success. Supporters may be getting slightly uneasy by the lack of new arrivals—it seemed like things were moving with the Herrera-Shaw double capture a month back—but it's vital that Van Gaal has established he won't wade into the market unless he can improve the team.
Moyes did the opposite last season and stuck United with the hapless Marouane Fellaini, a mistake the fans will not wanted to see repeated.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!