TURF MOOR, BURNLEY—Money, they say, doesn't solve everything.
And the sight of the £60 million Angel Di Maria racing around trying desperately to inject some pace and energy into a lacklustre Manchester United side at Turf Moor only reinforced that view.
Di Maria will get better. United will, too. How can they not with the Argentinian winger, Wayne Rooney, Robin van Persie and Juan Mata in the same team? At the moment, though, they still look like a group of schoolchildren, bemused and confused at what their teacher has asked them to do.
Louis van Gaal has been fond of saying, per Stuart Mathieson of the Manchester Evening News, that the things he is trying to do at Old Trafford will take time.
During the tour of the United States, he said it might take three months. Based on recent evidence, it might take even longer.
Di Maria, at least, was lively during his first 70 minutes in English football. But he will have realised very quickly why United have struggled in the opening three games of the season—and that he is here to fix at least some of those problems.
Playing high in midfield next to Juan Mata with Darren Fletcher in front of the back three, Di Maria got his first run at the Burnley defence inside the opening 15 minutes. The United fans gleefully chanted, “Argentina, Argentina,” as he ducked and dived through defenders.
But it ended in a loose pass to Rooney, the England striker not expecting the ball slipped into the box.
It was the story of the game: Di Maria looked bright and energetic, but he can't do it all on his own.
As the half drifted to a conclusion, Ashley Young picked up the ball on the left, looked forward, looked forward again but was eventually forced to turn back. He waved his arms at the players in front of him as if exasperated by the whole thing.
There was a similar feeling in the away end, where chants of, "Attack, attack, attack," came spewing out onto the pitch.
It didn't get much better after the break. If anything, it was Burnley and not United who might have felt hard done by with a point when the final whistle blew.
With two days to go until the transfer window shuts, Van Gaal is running out of time if he hopes to solve his problems in the transfer market. The arrival of Daley Blind, for whom United agreed a deal on Saturday morning, will at least add depth in defence and midfield.
But if the United boss hopes to solve his issues on the training pitch, then now is his chance.
With the international break, United don't play again until September 14, when QPR visit Old Trafford.
Van Gaal will at least have some players left at Carrington to try to mould into his “philosophy.”
The break will also give some members of his squad a chance to recover from injury. Ander Herrera, Luke Shaw and Rafael should be fit to face QPR in two weeks' time. Marcos Rojo will hope to have his work permit by then, as well.
It means Van Gaal should be better equipped to show signs of improvement when the Premier League reconvenes.
By then, he'll need more positive things to talk about than an encouraging debut from the most English football's most expensive player.