For the past quarter of a century United have pretty much been the envy of every club on the planet, with the exception of course of the past 2 years. This envy wasn’t only down to the success on the pitch and trophies won, but also the way the club was run overall. There was stability from the manager and CEO, running all the way through the football club.
The ethos at United has always been to promote players through the system and bring young kids through to the first team. Of course we had the great Busby Babes back in the 50s and a number of home grown talents in the 60s, but most readers can probably best relate to Fergie’s Fledglings of the 90s. Whilst we all acknowledge the game has changed – huge money has come into the game by via TV rights, corporate sponsorship and vastly wealthy owners – I believe most United fans want our great traditions to continue, as there is nothing better than seeing one of our own lads make it out of the academy and into first team success.
These players have loyalty; they will give everything for the shirt. The pride of wearing the Man United shirt for a local lad, versus a player from Buenos Aires, for example, cannot be compared. Whilst I am not knocking the players that come over from overseas, surely the balance needs to be there for a club with such traditions as United. I really don’t believe or accept that we are incapable of producing great footballers in the UK, especially in areas like Manchester, and maybe if clubs like United invested more heavily into grassroots football rather than spending £36 million pounds on a 19 year old French unknown, the future of United and English football would be in a much healthier state.
The young kids playing the game out there from around age 6 need quality coaching and good facilities. I am not just referring to those that are recruited early for academies – I am talking about general grass roots football where the top players of the future might begin their journey.
The money in football now has quite honestly become obscene. I have no objection to great players earning big money – they are special at what they do, and just like in any other walk of life, if you are exceptional in your field you will most likely see the financial rewards. It is the average Premier League player who, whilst maybe a very good professional, is not the guy bringing fans through the turnstile, but is still earning £60,000 to £80,000 a week, and will most likely retire from the game in his early 30s with £15 million in the bank if he has been managed properly throughout his career. This is where I think the game has gone a little crazy when average players can earn more in 3 months than most people earn in a lifetime.
As for LVG and United, I am greatly saddened by the events of the last 12 months. The youth system is seemingly being marginalised, and whilst early in Van Gaal’s reign it looked like players such as Lingard, Blackett, Wilson etc. would get a fair chance, it is now looking more likely that they will either get sold or farmed out to other clubs.
The whole transfer policy seems to be a shambles – buying Di Maria excited every single United fan; selling him one year later for a substantial loss was equally disappointing and mainly due to Van Gaal’s poor handling of an ‘artist’. He moved him around from one position to another and seemed to show no love for his player, and any professional footballer will tell you that they want to feel needed and respected by the manager and the club. He has sold Nani, RVP, Chicharito, Di Maria and Falcao, and sent Januzaj out on loan, replaced by a 19-year-old total unknown for £36m and a young Dutchman for £31m. Whilst Memphis may well be the real deal, he has so far looked a long way off the finished product for the Premier League. Where’s the logic? You have moved out goal providers and goal scorers and replaced them with two total gambles. Meanwhile Rafael was sold for £2.5m, and whilst I don’t totally disagree with his sale, surely we could have got a little bit more money for him. Johnny Evans has gone too – it’s always sad to see one of our homies move on – again, I don’t disagree with the decision, but questions surely must be asked about our centre-back recruitment policy.
I believe that Van Gaal saw United as a 2-3 year project in his career. He doesn’t seem to care about the past or the future, and seems to think that as long as he delivers a major trophy during his stay, we will all be happy. Yes of course we would celebrate wildly if we should win a domestic or European title again, but what about the overall big picture? Will we be celebrating that? Personally I will be very surprised if he delivers anything during his time at United – the football is very bland, and for the majority of the past 12 months it’s been like watching paint dry. I just cannot see his style of football beating the likes of City in England and the obvious top dogs of Europe – Barca, Real and Bayern .
LVG has a huge ego. It’s all about him. To manage a club like United, with its star-studded squad, you certainly need to be a strong character, but I think Van Gaals is rather extreme. I can now see in hindsight why the board appointed Moyes – I am sure they were thinking that he would carry on the Manchester United philosophy, bringing kids through the system and surrounding them with quality signings to have an overall balance of home gown talent and established acquisitions. Unfortunately Moyes was the wrong choice, but I now believe the “philosophy” was right.
I personally hope that at the end of Van Gaal’s reign, either in summer 2016 or 2017, that United again try and bring in someone who understands Manchester United and what it stands for to over 600 million fans around the world. I sincerely don’t believe LVG cares for one minute about the real Manchester United, and I am sure Sir Matt is turning in his grave!