It's been an intense 18 months at Old Trafford and who now face a very different season under Van Gaal the former Bayern man has taken the window to completely reshape his United team to put his own stamp on a new Manchester United era and boy did he do that. Van Gaal has spent £151.5 million this summer and sold a mere £32.3 million. In that team we have seen oh so familiar faces depart Old Trafford such as Danny Welbeck to Arsenal, Rio Ferdinand to QPR and Nemanja Vidic to Inter Milan with the latter in my opinion being the most missed by all people associated with Manchester United. However, we have seen 6 new players arrive at United this summer and all with very hefty price tags. Daley Blind from Ajax, Luke Shaw from Southampton, Ander Herrera from Athletic Bilbao, Marcus Rojo from Portuguese outfit Sporting Club, Angél Di Maria from Real Madrid and Radamel Falcao from AS Monaco on as season long loan. All exciting and technically gifted players in their own right but are they the answers to United problems?
First we'll start off with Daley Blind, a classic product from Ajax's Total Football regime. Van Gaal and Manchester United had to part with £13.8 million to prize the 24 year old away from Ajax. Not a shabby bit of business at all from Van Gaal's point of view. Now I'm not going to pretend like I've knew Daley Blind before he shone in the World Cup for the Netherlands, but I watched Blind at the World Cup and was by and large impressed by his work rate, calmness and discipline in the Dutch squad. Van Gaal played Blind in various positions in Brazil which he is more than capable of doing. Blind can play as a Left Back, Left Midfielder, Centre Midfielder, and even Centre Back on the odd occasion, a very much utility man to the United squad which is never a bad thing. On Sunday I was very impressed with the Dutchman, Blind sat as holding midfielder against QPR and very much reminded of a Roy Keane which United have been missing since the Irishman left. Blind looked very disciplined and more than willing to cover for his more attack minded midfield team mates Angél Di Maria and Ander Herrera. Daley Blind made 112 passes on Sunday, the fifth highest ever recorded in a Premier League game. Blind is money well spend for Louis Van Gaal and Manchester United as the former Ajax man brings a certain amount of composure, discipline and order to an otherwise nervy Manchester United. A Smart buy from LVG.
Next we'll go with Luke Shaw, £27 million from Southampton earlier in the Summer, bit pricey? Yes I think so too. Although it seems after England's torrid time in Rio that if you are young, English and seem to have a 'bright future' then your price tag doubles, this certainly seems the case for Shaw. The 18 year old certainly seems promising and looks like an exciting buy for Manchester United but £27 million? Southampton eyed an opportunity to make big money off the England International as Shaw remains United's only out and out left back following the departures of Patrice Evra and Alexander Buttner to Juventus and Dinamo Moscow respectively. So in theory, United have overpaid £6 or £7 million for Shaw but he will certainly have a career at Old Trafford and for England more excitingly. Shaw was well established at St. Marys displaying similar traits as Leighton Baines shows at Goodison Park. Shaw attacks well, can get past a player and deliver dangerous balls from wide areas. With the likes of Wayne Rooney, Robin Van Persie and Radamel Falcao to aim at, I'm sure Luke Shaw will not have a problem finding a United player in the box.
Succeeding Shaw is Ander Herrera. Herrera made his move to Manchester from Athletic Bilbao where he seems to have left on bad terms for a mere £29 million. Herrera made his debut in United's opening game defeat at home to Swansea City but made a brighter appearance against QPR where the 25 year old scored his first goal for the Red Devils. Herrera very much reminded me of Paul Scholes. The Spaniard has a trained eye for a pass and is a technically gifted midfielder. Herrera reads the game very well and was constantly found in space and always available to b e given the ball. Herrera isn't one of the more familiar names in list having never been internationally capped and never particularly mentioned in La Liga, however United have got themselves a technically able playmaker and seems a perfect 'replacement' for Darren Fletcher and Paul Scholes.
"Rojo is Red" was the trending story line on twitter when Marcus Rojo made his move to Old Trafford. Eventually he has become a Red after an initial working visa was turned down. Sporting Lisbon and United agreed a £16 million deal for the 24 year old but Rojo allegedly entered the country on a tourist Visa but needed to obtain a work Visa which he eventually gained after a "criminal investigation" was completed following an altercation with his neighbour in 2010. After the paper work was eventually sorted, Rojo made his debut for United in the 4-0 win over QPR where he looked a solid and dominant central defender. Tyler Blackett could be axed from the team should Van Gaal switch to a flat back 4 when Luke Shaw is fully fit and have a central 2 of Marcus Rojo and Jonny Evans.
Next is the penultimate player of Louis Van Gaal's summer signings and it is the pricey loan of Radamel Falcao. Falcao was the big name of deadline day sealing his move to Old Trafford from AS Monaco on a season long loan for a hefty price of £6 million. Wigan's biggest transfer was a reported £6.5 million for Argentine "Goal Scorer" Mauro Boselli, that might just put Falcao's loan and the size of United's spending this summer into context. Falcao made a brief cameo debut for United in the closing stages of the game against QPR on Sunday mainly to please the fans and also get the Columbian back to regular playing time following the knee injury that kept the former Atletico Madrid man out of the World Cup. Falcao missed what should have been a given goal when he latched onto a rebound after Daley Blind's drive was palmed into Falcao's path by QPR shot stopper Rob Green but Green was on hand to deny Falcao from close range. For a striker with his ability you would have put money on Falcao sliding the ball past Rob Green for a fifth but his lack of playing time and match sharpness was obvious but the former Porto man will surely regain his goal scoring form throughout the season that earned him the title of one of the most dangerous forwards in the world.
Last but certainly not least is the £60 million man Angél Di Maria. Di Maria's fee of £59.7 million that lured him from The Santiago Bernabéu is a British record that was previously held by Fernando Torres after his £50 million from Liverpool to Stamford Bridge 2 years ago. Di Maria has already shown his class and technical ability in his short time in Manchester and is well proven on the international stage. He isn't a Real Madrid reject by any means, Di Maria didn't agree with his wages and how he felt he was in the shadows of Bale and Ronaldo when in fact he was their best player during the second of the season last year. He is a world class player, there is no doubt about that and is it a case of "You get what you pay for"? Maybe so. Di Maria has shown his pace, power, knowledge of the game and, his awareness in a match situation. The Argentine has the ability to read the game very very well and always seems to be able to find space and be in the right place at the right time. Is it £60 million that could have been spent in better ways? Only time will tell if Di Maria lives up to his price tag. Van Gaal has sent out a big statement of intent to his rival clubs and the next 4-5 weeks will set an initial impression of United's targets this season.
So have United done what they needed to do? To a certain extent yes. Louis Van Gaal has put his own personal stamp on the team and completely rebuilt his team from scratch to start a new era at Old Trafford. Despite all their attacking options, they still have a mediocre back line. It has improved with additions of Luke Shaw, Marcus Rojo, and Daley Blind however they are still missing a Nemanja Vidic. A big assertive, leading centre half. In my opinion, Louis Van Gaal can not possibly expect to be challenging where United should be with the likes of Jonny Evans and Chris Smalling at the back. Having said that, reports have surfaced that Van Gaal's spending has not grinded to a halt with the Dutchman set to raid the Signal Iduna Park and Jurgen Klopp's Borussia Dortmund for German internationals Mats Hummels and Marco Reus for an alleged £50 million, however the Red Devils will have to ward of competition from their rivals Liverpool for Reus.
Finally, is it a new era for Manchester United? It certainly seems so. The spending certainly won't stop as Van Gaal has no worries on FFP after the club signed a £750 million kit deal with Adidas. Has the exciting youth image that has graced Old Trafford for so many years finally gone? Former United assistant coach Mike Phelan said this to BBC Sport following Danny Welbeck's move to Arsenal:
"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."
Only time will tell if Louis Van Gaal's spending pays off but there are certainly exciting times ahead at Old Trafford.