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Manchester United as we know it is dead... the new era at Old Trafford starts against QPR with a foreign coach presiding over a starting XI of mostly foreign players
- United have prided themselves on having British managers and players
- This summer has seen the club adopt a different policy by hiring Louis van Gaal and signing the likes of Radamel Falcao and Angel di Maria
- Home-grown players like Danny Welbeck and Tom Cleverley have been sold
- United's approach has been criticised by former player Gary Neville
- Assistant boss Ryan Giggs insists club will give home-grown stars a chance
- United are preparing to face QPR in the Premier League on Sunday
Gary Neville always thought the manager of Manchester United should be British. He said it privately, he said it publicly.
He stated it very passionately one night in Barcelona, when the dwindling embers of the David Moyes era were being raked over following a Champions League match.
Neville was adamant, defiant, that Manchester United should resist the appeal of a foreign coach. In his eyes this meant giving Moyes more time but it was plain that, even if a change had to be made, Neville felt the successor must hail from within these shores.
David Moyes (left) was sacked earlier this year and replaced at Manchester United by Louis van Gaal
New signing Radamel Falcao and manager Louis van Gaal talk during training on Friday
Louis van Gaal addresses his Manchester United players during training on Friday
Radamel Falcao and Daley Blind are expected to make their Manchester United debuts against QPR
Manchester United have a proud tradition of hiring British managers, such as Sir Alex Ferguson
Sir Alex Ferguson and Sir Matt Busby celebrate United's famous Champions League win in 1999
Others disagreed, and spoke of the practical realities, but he was insistent. It was what made United unique, he said. It was part of the culture of the club. A British manager affording opportunity to young British players. It was what set Manchester United apart.
Not any more. Sunday, September 14, 2014, is the first day of the new Manchester United. Against Queens Park Rangers at Old Trafford, a foreign coach will preside over a starting XI of mostly foreign, expensively-acquired, players. If there are English names on the team-sheet they will have been purchased for a king’s ransom, just like the rest.
If Jonny Evans or Darren Fletcher does make the starting line-up, they will merely be keeping that seat warm until the injury list shortens or the next transfer window signals another round of improvements. The vow these days is to buy the equivalent of one Luis Suarez every year. Ryan Giggs says United will continue giving youth its chance but, like Neville, he sounds like a man out of time.
A project that intends to take a team from seventh place to automatic Champions League qualification in one season is in too much of a hurry to rely on old-style youth development.
New signings Angel di Maria and Marcos Rojo (right) are both expected to face QPR on Sunday
(from left) Juan Mata, Anderson, Ander Herrera, David de Gea, Angel Di Maria and Marcos Rojo share a joke
Doubts remain about where Adnan Januzaj and Luke Shaw fit into Louis van Gaal's team
Manchester United celebrate their Champions League success in 1999, beating Bayern Munich in the final
Louis van Gaal’s overhaul has cast out some ordinary players, but it cannot help but scratch the odd gem, too: one of its first casualties would appear to be Adnan Januzaj, the rising star of the previous campaign, now pegged behind a who’s who of world football. His starting opportunities would appear bleakly limited, short-term at least.
It isn’t that Manchester United’s spending spree is immoral — they’ve got it, so why not flaunt it — or even that towards the end the purchases seemed to be based on what was available, rather than what was required. Everyone agreed significant investment was needed. The Class of 92 was a beautiful windfall, but United have not produced talent in any depth since then and waiting for the next generation would have seen the club slip further from the elite.
Ed Woodward, the executive vice-chairman, took a big gamble, but a necessary one, the Glazers having got away with reduced investment for so long. Positively thinking, there is a genuine sense of anticipation and wonder around the team Van Gaal will field tomorrow, the biggest buzz in English club football for several years. But is it United? No. Not the one Neville, Giggs and many others thought they knew. Not the United that Sir Alex Ferguson nurtured.
Pat Crerand (left), George Best (right) and their manager Matt Busby hold the European Cup aloft in 1968
Manchester United have yet to produce another batch of youngsters like their famous class of 92'
Ryan Giggs, Gary Neville, Phil Neville, Nicky Butt, Paul Scholes and David Beckham were stars for United
Ryan Giggs (left, with Wayne Rooney at training) says United will always gives home-grown players a chance
Gary Neville has concerns about how the club he played for his entire career is being run now
Sir Alex Ferguson applauds the Manchester United fans as he makes his way off the Old Trafford pitch
It is United as Manchester City, as Chelsea, as Real Madrid or Inter. It is Manchester United Internationale, the way every modern elite club, with one or two exceptions, is now a melting pot of star names and contracted performers, passing through as if on tour.
Cristiano Ronaldo was an unforgettable force for good at United but, ultimately, his team was Real Madrid. Old Trafford was a mutually beneficial stop on a career path that began at Sporting Lisbon and ended at the Bernabeu. Radamel Falcao talks of staying at United for many years, but this is a vague notion also. He was ‘eager to start the challenge’ and ‘very happy’ at Monaco, too, a year ago. ‘I have chosen this project,’ he announced. Now he has chosen another one.
So this team may achieve great things, but it is not like the old days. One does not see Falcao, Angel di Maria and Marcos Rojo sinking their savings into Atletico Salford 10 years from now. And with this new dynamic come changing attitudes, in the boardroom and also the cheap seats. No club ends up with the most expensively assembled squad in the Premier League, and settles for life outside the Champions League just three games into the season.
Cristiano Ronaldo was a great player for Manchester United but his true love was Real Madrid
David Beckham said he had a special relationship with the Manchester United fans during his time at the club
Ryan Giggs is one of the only remaining links to the old Manchester United left at Old Trafford
Manchester United may be in 14th place now, but that is only seven points from the top and five behind the automatically qualified third-placed team, currently Aston Villa, who nobody thinks will be there come the end of the season.
There are 105 points up for grabs from here, including home and away fixtures against every current Premier League club that has ever qualified for the Champions League in its modern format. So it’s on.
With the names on their roster, United’s owners now have every reason to expect to make the top three this season. And that is a sign of shifting times, too. Moyes would undoubtedly have been given a longer run, if only his first season had not been such a disaster.
Van Gaal’s reputation may buy him indulgence, but there will also be irritation if he does not turn this ship around, and fast. The board will not see the mitigation of a squad brought together in haste and on the hoof; they will see numbers, big numbers, and with them comes a demand for results.
The likes of Jonny Evans (left) and Darren Fletcher may see themselves squeezed out by foreign stars
Tyler Blackett is one of the young players that Louis van Gaal has given a chance this season
Striker James WIlson is seen as a player who could break into the United first team in the future
At Old Trafford, too, there may be an unfamiliar atmosphere. The majority of United fans were steadfastly supportive of Moyes even when they knew his regime was damaged beyond repair. There will be a huge sense of excitement around tomorrow’s game — but what if the change in fortunes is slow to unfold? Not against QPR, now viewed more as cannon fodder than tomorrow’s opposition, but against Chelsea on October 26, Manchester City on November 2 or Arsenal on November 22?
The club that Neville and Giggs knew enjoyed a special relationship with its home-produced players. David Beckham summed it up last week. ‘When you are a young player at United, when you are there from a young age and are home-grown, you feel it from the fans,’ he said. #
‘You have a really special bond and association with them. You are their player. When we were successful, when we were winning European Cups, leagues and FA Cups, it felt really personal from the fans, like how I feel when I see my son score a goal, or how my parents felt when they saw me win a championship. You feel like you have 75,000 parents watching you in the stands. That’s how Manchester United have always been.’
Tom Cleverely (centre) was sold by Manchester United to Aston Villa during the January transfer window
Danny Welbeck (centre) surprisingly moved from Manchester United to Arsenal for £16m
So while the new signings are not exactly orphans — Ronaldo was loyally supported, too, after the 2006 World Cup — they will not be as tenderly indulged through the difficult times. It was easy to support Ronaldo. He was a budding genius, and an important part of a very successful team. Yet what of a striker earning in the region of £300,000 who is not performing, in a team that has failed to click?
Even Tom Cleverley, with United from the age of 11, spoke of the oppressive tension around the club last season. What if this continues? Will Falcao feel he has 75,000 parents too? Or will he be like Mesut Ozil at Arsenal, or Fernando Torres at Chelsea, judged in relation to his transfer fee, salary and performance? Jack Wilshere gets an easier ride than Ozil ever will, for the reasons Beckham identified.
So this is it for United. Day one of a new era. The club Red Nev thought he knew no longer exists. Manchester United will look the same and sound the same tomorrow — they may even play the same if Van Gaal can overcome the time-poor restrictions of the international break to restore some of the old swagger.
Yet they are not the same. United are like the rest from here: only richer, grander and with great, great expectations.
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/football/article-2754057/Manchester-United-know-dead-new-era-Old-Trafford-starts-against-QPR-foreign-coach-presiding-starting-XI-foreign-players.html#ixzz3DAMIDg57
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