Being a Manchester United supporter is much more challenging for many these days than it has been in the recent past.
Fans have been soaked in the champagne of success as Sir Alex Ferguson and his successionally built teams have risen to the challenge every time, and taken all of the silverware that their mighty arms could carry.
But in 2014, things are very different.
United have just completed their third acquisition of a difficult summer with Marcos Rojo arriving from Sporting Lisbon for £16 million, per BBC Sport.
But despite the Red Devils signing three burgeoning talents in Rojo, Luke Shaw and Ander Herrera, it feels like Louis van Gaal has not even begun the rebuilding that he needs to do, to accomplish tangible success.
Rojo is a clever tactical signing by LvG. He is at home anywhere on the left side of the pitch and undoubtedly we will see him play in a variation of roles, as highlighted by Bleacher Report's Stan Collymore:
Rojo is a good player—but certainly not a great one—and his capture is a positive step for the Manchester club as they rebuild towards a new era.
At 24 years old, there is plenty of room for the Argentinian to grow, but United's needs are immediate and they are currently weighed down by a squad with much potential, but decreasing know-how and experience.
The three incoming transfers of the summer will need at least a year to settle in, and in teenager Shaw's case it appears that he might need an even longer period.
And here is where Van Gaal's immediate problems lie.
United are in desperate need to add a marquee signing now and the clock is ticking ever so loudly in the background, down to the end of the transfer window. When it closes, the sound will reverberate like a sonic boom in the ears of the faithful. Brains will be scrambled. Hearts will stop.
On Saturday, we saw how things have not changed for the team despite the shiny new coach and shiny new optimism.
The players that populate the United side have developed a phobia of performing at Old Trafford and the evidence was there for 78,000 people to witness, and for a few million watching fans from around the planet.
Wayne Rooney took his goal nicely but failed to be able to string a pass together as he played the ball countless times into the empty shadows.
And Darren Fletcher and Chicharito looked like relics from a lost kingdom as they ran like madmen around the pitch, neither helping their team or doing themselves any favours.
United's senior players do not look up for the fight despite what the painful looks on their faces tell you or the decorative medals they wear on their suits suggest.
The club needs a shot in the arm and that is only going to come from spending money.
When Manchester City needed a Sergio Aguero to push them forward in 2011, they went out and bought one.
When Arsenal thought that having another diminutive talent was worth the expenditure, they coughed up the cash and lured Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil.
And Chelsea have spent the summer, window shopping in the most expensive boutiques, looking for star quality at an acceptable price, and they have come up with a magnificent clutch of diverse players in Cesc Fabregas, Diego Costa, Didier Drogba, Filipe Luis and a returning Thibaut Courtois.
How can United compete with these teams if they are not prepared to conduct their business in a similar fashion?
Yes, United have spent money in the past few months, but their idea of squad building has minimal impact and lacks aggression.
When you are on top, you can bring in a new face and give him time to blood. But when you are on the way down you have to try something different, and make a statement worthy of a truly big football club.
The Glazer family certainly do not want to conduct their business in a similar manner to City and Chelsea, who both have rich benefactors, but Arsenal have proved that you can get players from the very top echelon of world football without having a trophy room packed with Premier League crowns.
So why can United not do the same?
Ed Woodward will have an earthquake magnitude worth of questions thrown in his direction from the United fan-base if he does not deliver the talent he has seismically bragged that he can get.
Jamie Jackson of The Guardian reported on Woodward's words during United's pre-season tour of the USA, where the executive vice-chairman confidently said:
The reality is that we’re not afraid of spending significant amounts of money in the transfer market. Whether it’s a record or not doesn’t really resonate with us. What resonates is an elite player that the manager wants who is going to be a star for Manchester United.
I get pointed in the direction of a target that the manager wants and there is an assessment of what that might cost and I’ll negotiate hard to do the best I can on the trade. I stand by what I said—there is no budget. We are in a very strong financial position. We can make big signings.
"Elite players." "There is no budget." "We can make big signings"—all incredibly big statements by the man responsible for negotiating and executing transfers. But so far, in his 12 months in the job, Woodward has failed miserably if his mandate is to deliver the very best.
And unless Woodward can pull a proverbial rabbit out of the hat in the next week or so, United are going to start their campaign with a squad that warrants seventh place in the Premier League, and no more.
Expectations have sank quicker than anyone thought possible after the exit of Fergie, and maybe David Moyes was a symptom of the illness rather than the virus that struck down a marauding giant.
But one thing is true: Van Gaal may well be one of the best coaches in the history of the game, but he will be unable to stop United's slide into oblivion unless Woodward gets him his top targets immediately.
And the Glazer family needs to support the sporting principles of the club, instead of just the commercial ones.
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