signings will give van gaal a chance
Manchester United's big transfer splurge makes them credible title candidates again
LOUIS van Gaal has a chance now. Manchester United's big splurge in the transfer window has delivered some new options. All we can do is wait and see what he does with them.
As I've said many times before, getting the right players into a club is the hardest job any manager has to do and to be fair to van Gaal, he went at it from a standing start.
He was busy with Holland's World Cup preparations and clearly misjudged the scale of repairs he would need to do to lift the club out of the mess it was in when David Moyes was sacked.
I'm sure Moyes must feel even more aggrieved when he sees the amount of money Manchester United were prepared to spend to support van Gaal. To add salt to the wound, one of his targets was Radamel Falcao
The Colombian has been on Manchester United's radar from some time and the player seemed to confirm that yesterday so in that sense it wasn't a deal initiated by van Gaal. I'm sure when he was presented with the possibility in the current circumstances, he gave his assent.
Now that he has his feet under the table, he will need to take full control of the process of talent scouting, buying and selling and get to work straight away to find more players. He is better off now than he was, but he needs more.
He may have to work with what he has got until next May. I do believe that the players he has brought in will allow him to make a credible run at the title, but he needs to begin the groundwork now and, if possible, bring in more players in January.
I think Jose Mourinho had a fantastic summer, the best of any of the title hopefuls and he did his business quietly over the last year.
Cesc Fabregas would have fitted in comfortably at any of the top clubs but Arsene Wenger turned down the chance to resign him and Mourinho won that race and Chelsea will benefit in a big way from his foresight.
Van Gaal could certainly have done with him. He has addressed the issue of full-backs and his defence to some degree with Marcos Rojo, Daley Blind and of course Luke Shaw who had already been signed.
Up front he has lost Danny Welbeck but added a top rank striker. When you add Falcao's name to Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie, Manchester United have formidable attacking options.
But I still think he is very, very light in midfield and badly needs a strong character and top quality playmaker to run the show.
I have not been impressed at all with his decision to play three at three back but van Gaal is a clever man and I notice that he stuck in yet another provisional ball after Manchester United signed Angel Di Maria, suggesting that he might have to change the way he wants his team to play.
He's a great man for provisional balls. His first was the claim that he would need three months to put things right at Old Trafford which he stretched out to a year after his opening day humiliation at home to Swansea.
Now, he is climbing back from his insistence that Manchester United should play with three across the back although, oddly enough, he now has a few defenders who might actually be able to play in his system.
I don't necessarily begrudge him his pre-prepared excuses because he really did inherit an awful mess, as indeed did David Moyes.
This is the second summer transfer window that has seen a desperate Manchester United manager scrambling to buy players, any players, right up to the last minute.
Moyes ended up with Marouane Fellaini and not much else so at least van Gaal managed to bring in a decent amount of quality and now has something to work with.
A casualty of his arrival at Manchester United was Welbeck and while I think Wenger has done some good business there, he is no Falcao or Diego Costa.
He seems obsessed by midfielders. Maybe he thinks he can emulate Vicente del Bosque who won Euro 2012 without a recognised striker.
Spain had the best playmakers in the world on the pitch in that tournament, players at the height of their powers but I believe that del Bosque would have used a world class striker if had a fit one available at the time.
At the end of every transfer window for the last five years or more, I've ended up pondering the same questions about Wenger and his transfer policy.
Nothing changes. He needs someone to score goals but failed to find the right man during the summer. He could not have foreseen Olivier Giroud's long-term injury but it is a manager's job is to plan for the worst even if he cannot predict the future.