The club has reportedly insisted that it is still dedicated to the longtime tradition at Old Trafford of promoting youth, despite spending £150 million in the summer transfer window in an attempt to bolster the squad, per David McDonnell in the Daily Mirror:
United are adamant Van Gaal will continue to give youth a chance - and cited the promotion of young striker James Wilson as proof of their commitment to that.
[...] Senior United figures are angry at the perception their huge investment in the squad this summer means they have abandoned the commitment to youth that began with the Busby Babes and continued under Ferguson with the Class of ‘92.
Along with deadline-day deals for Radamel Falcao and Daley Blind, United broke the British transfer record to bring in Angel Di Maria for £59.7 million as well as signing Ander Herrera, Luke Shaw and Marcos Rojo.
After the departure of Welbeck to Premier League rivals Arsenal for £16 million, former Red Devils assistant manager Mike Phelan expressed his opinion that it marked the end of the tradition of developing homegrown talent, per Gary Rose on BBC Sport:
They have probably lost the way of Manchester United a little bit. Now, rather than produce, it may be the case where they are buying in. Someone like a Danny Welbeck has been part of United's identity and that has been broken. What will happen in the future now, nobody knows but that thread has been broken now.
United defender Phil Jones was also sad to see Welbeck leave the club, per Ben Burrows in the Daily Mirror:
He’s been a big player for Man United. I’m sorry to see him go, but I wish him all the best.
He’s a good friend and a great player as well. He will be a great addition to the Arsenal team.
While the Manchester outfit's huge outlay on transfers this summer certainly seems to be a departure from past policy, it is likely necessary after they finished seventh in the Premier League last season.
Furthermore, it is not necessarily completely different from the way things were run in the Sir Alex Ferguson era prior to his retirement in 2013, per football writer Nooruddean Choudry:
United have always spent big and regularly broke the transfer record. It was always big name purchases supplemented by home-growth youth.— Nooruddean (@BeardedGenius) September 3, 2014
Indeed, in the early 2000s, United broke the British transfer record twice, first with the £28.1 million signing of Juan Sebastian Veron and then paying £29.1 million for Rio Ferdinand, per the Daily Telegraph.
Equally, Van Gaal has already shown his willingness to play homegrown youth talent at United, having started Tyler Blackett in all three Premier League games so far this season.
Is Manchester United's identity "broken" after the sale of Danny Welbeck?
Under David Moyes last term, United were nothing short of shambolic at times and finished four places lower than they had ever done previously in the Premier League, as well as missing out on Champions League football.
A major upheaval was necessary, and Van Gaal was always going to have to spend big to attract the necessary talent to turn things around.
Thus far in 2014-15 things have yet to improve—United have dropped seven points from their first three top-flight matches.
However, it is likely going to be a long process to get the 20-time English league champions back to the top of the pile, and the club is insistent it will continue to promote homegrown youth as part of that.