Well, what a difference a week makes in football. Before the start of last week there were a lot of anxious United fans wondering whether this summer would be deja vu for the club; a new manager who doesn’t start until nearly a month before the new season kicks off and of course the lack of movement in the transfer market. I even wrote a piece on this site about whether United needed a Director of Football instead of Ed Woodward fronting United’s transfer negotiations, then as if the man himself had seen my article United and Woodward had burst into action and signed not only one but TWO players in the space of 24 hours. Now there is a fresh sense of optimism and positivity amongst supporters on social media and forum websites that United are looking to overhaul their squad and make a comeback to English football’s summit.
I have been particularly impressed with how United kept it quiet that they were back in for Herrera, word did not get out until late on Monday night when Spanish radio station Cadena Ser reported that United had agreed to meet Herrera’s buy-out clause and make him Louis van Gaal’s first signing this Summer. At first many assumed it was the daily silly season Twitter rumour doing the rounds, but this one was different; firstly Cadena Ser didn’t just say that United wanted Herrera they were pretty adamant that it was going to happen. Then other Spanish publications like AS and Marca started reporting the same thing and quoted their own sources. Credit must go to Woodward as Bilbao are not easy to negotiate with and trying to sign one of their players can be compared to trying to extract someone form a cult. Herrera fits the United profile of looking for players with the best years ahead of them and with resale value, he can play as a number 10, or as a deep laying playmaker, but perhaps what is most surprising about the Spaniard is his ability to break up play. United have been crying out for someone who can do this in the middle of the park and have not had this type of player since Owen Hargreaves.
Initial talks are said to have taken place as early as January for Luke Shaw, so it should come at no surprise that United finally got their man last Friday after agreeing a £27m fee plus £1m add ons for the teenage full back. It seems like Southampton knew that Shaw was going and just wanted to show that they were going to put up a fight to please their fans. United did well to stave off rumoured interest from Shaw’s boyhood club Chelsea and Liverpool although some will say that United had to blow those teams out of the water because of our vulnerability at left back. Patrice Evra is now 33 and has been error prone in his last two seasons. The club has also let Alex Buttner go to Dynamo Moscow. These circumstances meant that it was imperative that United signed a new left back. There has been a lot of talk about whether United are getting value for money at nearly £30m, to those people I say look at Rio Ferdinand, look at Wayne Rooney. Both players cost the club close to the £30m mark and were signed at a very young age as potential prospects for the future. It is fair to say that Untied got value for money in the end with those two, and they will hope to get the same from Shaw. Put it this way; I would rather spend £27m on an 18 year old with great potential than £25m on a 26 year old (looking at you Liverpool)
So far United’s signings have one thing both in common; potential, neither of them you would say are the finished product. I feel that the club still needs to make three more signings, signings that are the near at the very least to the peek of their powers. Despite the signing of Herrera, I feel United need another CM and think that the club should move heaven and earth for Juventus midfield general Arturo Vidal, who is rightly regarded as one of the best box to box midfielders in world football. Getting him will not be easy as their is interest from the likes of Real Madrid, Bayern Munich and even Arsenal. He is someone who would become a instant fan favourite with his great energy and stamina and would further boost United’s commercial arm who are apparently demanding United land a marquee name this Summer.
I also feel United desperately need to shore up that defence with a new CB, Hummels would be the ideal choice but he seems reluctant to want to leave Dortmund this Summer so as a back up plan United should go for Stefan de Vrij of Feyenoord who I feel is a better fit than our interest in Thomas Vermaelen. To round off the dealings for this window the club should also move for a winger, there have been a number of them linked with the likes of Juan Curadrado, Memphis Depay and Arjen Robben mentioned but in my opinion United should attempt to sign either Angel Di Maria or Alexis Sanchez and give either of them the iconic No. 7 shirt. We have badly missed a winger that isn’t afraid to take full backs on and have more than a single trick up their sleeve. United’s current wingers produced nothing last season; Nani still pops up now and again to remind us that he is still a United player, Tony V seems to be obsessed about drilling low balls into the box all the time and then there’s Ashley Young who always seems to want to pass the ball backwards instead of driving to the box.
If we can manage to get the players I have mentioned then I can see us having a season to remember under Louis van Gaal, with us hopefully having quality in our past positions of weakness and the less games caused by our absence from the Champions League van Gaal will have more time on the training pitch to implement his methods and tactics. We have a good core of young players that have their best years still to come couple that with quality signings and I’m sure that we will see a swift return to Europe and have our rivals fearing us once more. This should only be the start of United’s business and if I’m right, then the beast is merely stirring.