History Shows Man United Shouldn't Panic Buy After Opening Day Defeat

Aaron BowerFeatured ColumnistAugust 19, 2014

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - AUGUST 16:  Manchester United Manager Louis van Gaal looks on prior to the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and Swansea City at Old Trafford on August 16, 2014 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
Alex Livesey/Getty Images

When Manchester United fans glanced at the fixture list after it was released way back in June, they will have no doubt been delighted by the fact their opening six games were, without disrespecting certain teams, quite fortuitous.

After all, they had just appointed a manager, Louis van Gaal, who was still fulfilling his duties at the World Cup, so it was almost certain that United's transfer business wouldn't be done before the season began.

So a home opener against Swansea seemed like an early Christmas present. However, things clearly didn't go to plan on the opening day, and the mindset among United fans has shifted dramatically.

After the pre-season tour in America, which culminated in United winning the International Champions Cup, Van Gaal's 3-5-2 was being heralded as a piece of tactical genius. However, after just one game of the season (one half, in fact), it was ditched for the conventional 4-4-2, with United's massive problems from last season becoming painfully apparent for LVG.

However, history shows that panic buying is simply not the answer.

The transfer window closes on September 1, so the manager still has roughly two weeks to get some bodies in without rushing through deals that might not suit United's new style. Believe it or not, no club in England has spent more than United in the last five transfer windows, with only Paris Saint-Germain eclipsing their £156 million outlay on transfers.

And David Moyes' first transfer window as United boss typified that culture of panic buying that must be stamped out of Old Trafford. Failed pursuits for Cesc Fabregas and Ander Herrera (whom Van Gaal eventually snapped up this season) led to Moyes being desperately short in midfield going into the final hours of the transfer window last year.

However, instead of sticking with what he had, Moyes flung a heap of cash at Everton and shelled out £27 million for Marouane Fellaini. We all know how that turned out. Even in the January transfer window, Moyes produced another panic buy that was a last-ditch attempt to save his job at United, when he spent £37 million on Juan Mata from Chelsea. Granted, Mata has been a fair sight better in a United shirt than Fellaini, but that's an absurd amount of money to spend on one man in January.

As we know, the January transfer window usually produces inflated transfer fees (as Fernando Torres and Andy Carroll's transfers in 2011 prove), but this was a real piece of panic buying from David Moyes.

To give LVG some credit, he has recruited better than Moyes already, but he can't allow injuries and other factors to enable him to dip into the transfer kitty just because it's there to be spent.

Luke Shaw will be a fantastic cog in Van Gaal's 3-5-2 formation when he is back to full fitness, and Herrera too will prove to be a shrewd acquisition. But it's incredible to think that United went out and panic bought their way to seventh place last season, especially with the money they shelled out on players.


Kirsty Wigglesworth/Associated Press

After all, it's just one game. There are still 37 left, and if you want proof that the opening day of the season doesn't mean all that much, United should cast a glance at Arsenal. After his club slipped to a 3-1 defeat against Aston Villa on the opening day last year, Arsene Wenger faced a barrage of abuse from his own fans for failing to recruit suitably.

Did he panic? No, he sat it out and eventually got a deal for Mesut Ozil over the line.

People might suggest Arsenal only finished fourth last year, but United fans would have snapped your hand off for that—and Wenger's club had an FA Cup win to boot.

Louis van Gaal will be a success at Manchester United, but he cannot allow the shadow of the previous couple of seasons to loom large over him. He has to do it his way, and patience in the transfer window is the real key to building a successful side this season.