Louis van Gaal will not be afforded a honeymoon period and has been told that he has to deliver on the clubs summer transfer plans. With rumours and counter rumours dominating the media this is a frustrating time to be a Manchester United fan. Whilst there has been positive sounding lines emanating from club sources, there is still nothing concrete on show for Manchester United fans to feel excited. Whilst there are ulterior motives for some of the negative press which the club receives from some quarters of the media, it seems that every day there is a negative headline contradicting the positive one from the day before.
This has an unhappy echo from last summer, when fans were led by the nose into thinking that the club had signed Fabregas, when all along the player had no intention of leaving Barcelona. Memories of shady Spanish representatives masquerading as lawyers made a mockery of Ed Woodward’s efforts and damaged his image as a negotiator. Whilst insiders like Gary Neville insist that the club should keep their dealings private, the fans are owed at least some information to offer a crumb of comfort.
There has been a concerted swathe of headlines along the lines of “Robben snubs United” and “Yet another target turns down United”. Of course it is all a game played by journalists meeting deadlines for original copy as the football season ends. There is no real news any longer, so there has to be some creative writing to fill the back pages, and transfer rumours are a prime target.
What can Van Gaal do about it?
The fact is that Van Gaal must not let another summer like the last happen this time. Whilst he is busy in Brazil, we assume that Ed Woodward is beavering away getting signatures from top players willing to come to Old Trafford. Unfortunately, there is no evidence to support this. Luke Shaw is a `done deal` evidently, yet he still makes ambiguous statements to the media at the England training camp. Robben says he is staying at Bayern, as does Kroos. Fabregas says nothing. Strootman is injured until October and seems to be suggesting that he will remain at Roma. On and on it goes, like a runaway train desperate for someone to apply the brakes.
Van Gaal or Woodward need to either announce a signing to allay any unrest amongst fans, or at least make some kind of positive statement about their plans.
The repercussions of last year`s failure have been highlighted today by a report by Brand Finance showing that Manchester United`s brand value has fallen by nearly £60m in a year to leave them third in the table. They cannot afford another season of failure and neither can Van Gaal fail to deliver.
Manchester United has led the way under Ed Woodward by bringing some of the biggest sponsorship deals in football to the club, but how long will they remain if the team does not win anything? The pressure to win will be enormous; bigger than anything ever experienced under Sir Alex Ferguson`s time in charge. Instead of leaking misleading information, the club needs to deliver , especially if there really is the fabled £200m warchest available. The price of failure will have far reaching effects that will spread across the Atlantic as far as Wall Street with the spectre of the Glazers nest egg falling around their ears.