Why Manchester United’s transfer window was a success

by Sam Peoples

For the second year in a row, Manchester United dominated the headlines in the summer transfer window.

Louis van Gaal brought in six new signings whilst an unprecedented amount left on either permanent or loan deals in what was the biggest single shake up the squad has ever had in the Premier League.

But was it a good transfer window?

Here’s what I considered United’s five main objectives going into the summer.

1. Keep David de Gea – success

For me, the number one priority this summer was keeping De Gea at the club but I never thought it could happen because he wanted to join Real Madrid and return home. Yet, here we are on September 2 and De Gea remains a United player.

Whatever the real reasons behind his failed move to Madrid, it is largely irrelevant as far as fans are concerned. We’ve kept our best player and the team is so much stronger because of it.

With De Gea in the team and putting in 100% every game to make sure he becomes Spain’s No.1 for the 2016 European Champions, United have a much greater chance of success this year.

We wouldn’t be in the Champions League if De Gea wasn’t a United player and although there’s a hope he won’t be needed as much in every game any more, the fact he’ll be there is such a morale boost.

2. Strengthen the midfield – Success

When Michael Carrick was out of the team last season, Man United were lost at sea.

Daley Blind filled the role quite well at the start of the year but when Luke Shaw was injured at the same time as Carrick, the Dutchman had to fill in there instead which left United without a midfield anchorman.

It’s in this position where United have undoubtedly done their best business in bringing in Morgan Schneiderlin and Bastian Schweinsteiger.

Both players are fantastic in their own right but Schneiderlin is the player who will really lead United’s midfield this year. Schweinsteiger will serve as a Carrick alternative and regularly swap in and out of the team with him.

Not to mention the fact we’ve also got Ander Herrera chomping at the bit to start every game.

For years, midfield was United’s bogey position but after some shrewd signings it has been transformed into one of the team’s best assets.

3. Sign a right-back – success

Ever since Gary Neville hung up his boots, United haven’t had a reliable right-back. Rafael was superb in the 2012/13 season but was never able to repeat that thanks to injuries and a lack of opportunities.

Antonio Valencia didn’t solve the problem either as he has never been, and never will be, a right-back. He was there only thanks to a series of unfortunate events.

However, Matteo Darmian has come in and solved that problem. We’re only a few games into the season but he already looks the part; assured in defence and full of enthusiasm going forward, he has made the right-flank dangerous for United again and that’s already proving to be an important asset.

4. Resolve the striker situation – somewhat successful

Let’s get things straight first and foremost. Van Gaal was absolutely correct to let Radamel Falcao and Robin van Persie leave the club; both players were on very high wages and neither were able to be the dynamic forward van Gaal wanted.

As for Javier Hernandez, he again didn’t show enough to van Gaal but there is a slight concern about a lack of depth in attack if injuries kick in.

Anthony Martial became the striker who van Gaal decided to sign. Raw, powerful and full of potential, the 19-year-old represents a real gamble and not the established striker many wanted to be brought in but it’s an improvement nonetheless.

Nobody knows what Martial will be able to do for United this season and who knows, maybe he will end up scoring 20+ goals in all competitions.

5. Sign a centre-back – Failure

It is here where United’s major shortfall in the transfer window lies.

Chris Smalling and Daley Blind have started the season excellently together but we’re an injury or two away from playing Michael Carrick and Paddy McNair in defence.

For whatever reasons, van Gaal felt confident in his current crop of defenders but there will come a point this season, as it does every year, where that faith will backfire thanks to injuries.

Overall – Success

United have a much smaller squad in quantity after this transfer window but what’s the point in keeping players for the sake of it?

Yes, Jonny Evans would have bumped up the amount of centre-backs van Gaal had but he would never have played. The same goes for Nani, Robin van Persie, Tom Cleverley, Ben Amos and the others who he let go. They were deadwood as far as van Gaal was concerned.

If United had signed a top quality centre-back and an established striker, then this would have been the perfect transfer window but that doesn’t mean it was failure because they weren’t.

I’ll be the first to admit that the squad is worryingly thin in depth with so much competitive football coming up but the overall quality of it has definitely improved on last year.

We’ve plugged some key areas of weakness with systematic signings and although there were areas which weren’t completely fixed, the summer has gone a long way towards building a better United squad that can challenge for silverware once again.

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