Louis van Gaal has admitted that he needs to buy players with pace and creativity to win the Premier League next season.
United have strengthened some areas of their squad but another huge turnaround in personnel means that a casual observer may look at their squad and consider that overall, it is just as fallible as it was heading into last season.
That’s certainly the message that Van Gaal is sending.
‘We’re not on schedule to be champions because we need speed and creativity at the front,’ he said, ‘Whether we can win the title (in the next two seasons) is dependable if we can buy players with speed and creativity. You shall always be compared with other clubs. Barcelona without Neymar and Messi, their speed and creativity, they have Pedro behind. Bayern Munich: Ribery and Robben. After that they can change with Muller and they also had Shaqiri at other times.
Chelsea have Hazard, Willian, Oscar — that is speed and creativity. Young had a great season. Mata also. But they don’t have the speed of Hazard or Robben. We have to improve our selection in that way.’
It is a strong admission from Van Gaal who will undoubtedly come under criticism after spending big over the last season; his words won’t find many who disagree, due to the number of forward players who have departed, but the manager is experienced enough to understand the repercussions of any failure over the next season.
‘I decide nothing without talking to my staff, and my staff is very big,’ he is at pains to point out. ‘I am always asking for advice but in the end, I have to take responsibility. It’s logical as I am the only one who shall be fired.’
Van Gaal gave an indication of the kind of player he will be looking for, and the traits that such a player may need to have.
‘The hardest decisions are always which players you buy and which have to go. We know the Premier League is different to all the other leagues and players have to adapt,’ he said. ‘We’ve signed Depay. He was chosen as the most talented young player at the World Cup and is highly intelligent, but he has to cope with the rhythm of the Premier League. I have confidence in that but we have to wait and see. It is not clear yet. The same thing is for Schweinsteiger. OK, he is a world champion and with Bayern Munich a Champions League winner. But the Bundesliga is different to the Premier League, here it is a higher rhythm and more pressure on the ball. He can see a challenge in that, that is why he is here.’