The end of the transfer window brought with it an uptick in optimism, but the end of the Burnley game saw a lot of pretty grumpy Manchester United fans, disappointed with a thoroughly lack-lustre start to the season.
Assuming Falcao turning up hasn’t been enough to put a smile on your face, here’s a list of reasons to be cheerful about United.
5. We haven’t given up on youth
Danny Welbeck has gone to Arsenal, Tom Cleverley on loan to Aston Villa, presumably with a view to a permanent move, Tom Lawrence has headed off to Leicester for good, with Nick Powell joining him for a while.
All of those deals happened in the shadow of Radamel Falcao arriving, with the infeasibly handsome Daley Blind in tow. It gave the impression, gleefully seized upon by journalist looking for any angle to have a pop at United, of a club which had abandoned its traditions.
Which is, of course nonsense. Or at least, much too soon to say for certain whether or not it is nonsense.
If this does indeed turn out to be the advent of the era of the Gaalacticos, then this will look foolish in the years to come, but for now, what has really happened to make everyone panic about United’s traditions?
We have replaced a striker with a better one (even one as blinded by love for Welbz as I am has to recognise Falcao might JUST be a better centre forward). We have let players go who weren’t going to make it at United, and Danny got fed up with not being first choice, and realising he needs playing time to develop, took the plunge and went elsewhere.
We have the largest percentage of academy products in our squad of any of the clubs competing at the top end of the Premier League (assuming we are again!). Our new manager gave first team debuts or league debuts to six academy players in his first three games in charge.
James Wilson and Tyler Blackett will likely feature this season, as, of course, will Jonny Evans.
Where there is room for concern is with the treatment that Welbeck and Cleverley have received from fans. It is one thing to not rate a player, but the vitriol with which fans, both local and international, talk about these lads who have been at United from the ages of 8 and 11 respectively, is genuinely worrying.
But, if fans can find a way to become supportive again, it’s much too soon to say the club have given up on youth.
4. Players coming back from injury
The same press who gave David Moyes’ demolition of Manchester United a free pass until around March of 2014 have gleefully leapt upon the chance to have a good old fashioned British pop at Johnny Foreigner.
“Coming over here, with his back three, that’ll never work” is the basic attitude. “You might have done alright over in forn’ parts with your fancy ways, but this is the BEST LEAGUE IN THE WORLD” cry the jounos.
The main reason for Van Gaal’s poor start is pretty straightforward. All our players are injured.
Okay, not all of them, but the key ones needed to make things work. If you need evidence of that, Anderson has played twice. Our new signings have played just over two hours of football between them.
Once Van Gaal has a full deck to work from, he’ll have no problem building a winning hand.
3. Signings. Like, ridiculously good ones.
Angel Di Maria might be the best player we’ve ever bought. By best, I really mean “world superstar in his absolute prime” sort of best.
He may well not go on to have the best United career of anyone we’ve ever bought (Salut Eric! Howareya Keano? Ola Cristiano! Och aye Denis!) but in terms of a brilliant player at the top of his game, completely totally and utterly proven at the very highest level, can anyone think of a match? Denis Law might be the only truly comparable signing in our history.
If Falcao’s knee turns out to be fine, then he might be even better. Herrera is a player we’ve needed for five years. Shaw could be our left back for a decade. Blind is a fine addition, who could grow into a genuine star. The jury remains out on Rojo, but he can play in a lot of positions in which we’re short.
Sure, there are questions about who’s going to play where, and how they’ll all jell, but it’s going to be a lot of fun watching them.
2. The boss
Louis van Gaal is a world class, genius, brilliant manager. Whatever happens at United, nothing will change that. However, because he is all of those things, what happens at United is most likely to be good.
If the Glazer family have decided that the best way to accumulate even more personal profit from running our club is to allow us to invest more of the money we make, then it’s unlikely anything can stop Van Gaal being a success.
The key problems facing our squad: no out-and-out leader at centre-back, apparent absence of a general in midfield (although Herrera has potential in that department) and the wrong attacking balance so far, all of those are best dealt with in the hands of an experienced, brilliant manager.
His new system hasn’t worked great, but there are a ton of mitigating factors for that (mostly the injuries), and if it continues not to work he’s not just going to stick with it. He’s adaptable. He really likes winning stuff. He’s won stuff almost everywhere he’s been. He is going to be a success at United.
1. Sometimes, not being that great is great.
The dream scenario looks likely. We’re probably going to be back in business pretty soon. It’s hard to see that a way that our brilliant manger with a reinvigorated squad is going to fail, but even if that happens, we can still have a good time.
Last season the atmosphere at Old Trafford was a bit better than it had been in previous years. It felt like it was finally the year that other fans twigged that our away fans are basically in a class of their own in terms of the variety and noise they offer.
There is a lot of fun to be had supporting a team that’s not winning everything in sight, as evidenced by the fact that teams other than us still have fans.
Although I actually think that a return to glory is likely, even if it doesn’t come, following United will always be a good time.
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