EPL: Van Gaal right to lose players 'just not good enough'

EPL: Van Gaal right to lose players 'just not good enough'

All supporters believe that their club stand for something more noble than the mere acquisition of silverware.

Liverpool fans grip tight to the mythical "Liverpool Way", an intangible, abstract notion of a proper way of doing things, now obliterated by their handling of the Luis Suarez scandal. Tottenham supporters believe that their game must be glorious and that, "to dare is to do".

Then they sacked the cavalier manager Harry Redknapp and replaced him with tactical micro-manager Andre Villas-Boas.

All ideologies can be sacrificed upon the altar of expediency and so it is with Manchester United this week.

United's central tenet is the promotion of homegrown youth.

Busby had his "babes" and Ferguson had his "fledglings", but Louis van Gaal has no interest in pursuing a similar policy.

After much confusion, Tom Cleverley has been dispatched on loan to Aston Villa. His contract expires next summer and he is not expected to be offered a new one.

Danny Welbeck moved to Arsenal and van Gaal was sure of himself that he had no concerns when the striker signed a five-year deal.

Michael Keane went to Burnley on loan, Tom Lawrence went to Leicester for £1 million ($2m) accompanied by free transfers Louis Rowley and Jack Barmby.

In response, traditionalist United supporters have complained their identity is being stripped away.

After years of laughing at the likes of Chelsea and Manchester City for their short-term, large-scale spending, their moral high ground has become a sinkhole.

TROUBLE

And yet, van Gaal is right to order the ejections. United are in trouble.

The cracks that had been so skilfully obscured by Ferguson now threaten to bring down the entire edifice.

The club need a shake-up and there is no evidence that the players lost would have helped anyway.

Of the exiled starlets, Welbeck is the biggest concern.

United supporters respected his work-rate and were all too aware that he was one of the only sources of real pace in the front line.

But, if he wasn't going to be given a chance ahead of Robin van Persie, Wayne Rooney and now Radamel Falcao, then there was no point leaving him to stagnate as an occasional impact substitute.

Cleverley was a far easier decision.

The 25-year-old midfielder is in what appears to be a terminal decline.

He was supposed to be the midfielder who linked the lines, not just with ambitious passing, but with movement as well.

Instead, he is static and lacks imagination. He passes sideways and too often seems more concerned with not making a mistake than he is with opening up the game. Cleverley needs a fresh start.

Keane had proved rather less successful at United than his illustrious namesake.

He replaced Smalling at Sunderland in the second week of the season and struggled, at one point losing sight of the ball completely and almost allowing the Black Cats to score a critical goal.

With the best will in the world, he's not the centre back United needed to push on.

As for the others, they simply haven't proved to be good enough.

It's a shame when young players with years of investment behind them fall short, but it is a part of football. It seems highly unlikely that van Gaal has accidentally tipped diamonds into the bin.

It is a shame that United have had to ignore their instincts and spend money at such a rate, but they had little option.

Had the money been spent earlier, by Ferguson and by Moyes, this wouldn't be necessary. But there is no ill fortune in United's demise, it's self-inflicted.

Journalists grew weary of writing about United's need for a midfielder years ago.

The club knew that key players were leaving and took no action. Van Gaal is giving the team a shake-up and a much-needed makeover.

Perhaps when this storm has passed, United will return to their roots.


This article was first published on September 04, 2014.
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