As is often the case, it’s been a fascinating start to the EPL this season. Many of the top contenders have gathered new, world-class talent in an ongoing attempt to outdo one another. And the latest example comes in the form of Angel di Maria’s long-anticipated transfer from Real Madrid to Manchester United.
After a surprisingly dull start to what many thought was a promising campaign, Man U supporters are naturally hoping that bringing di Maria into the fold will help to set the ship straight. Unfortunately, it may not be so simple.
In fact, despite his brilliance as a player, di Maria at Old Trafford—at least, at this time—feels all wrong. Here are four reasons not to expect Man U’s latest star to save the day.
One – The fit is all wrong. Our own Luke Regan explored this glaring issue in some detail just this past weekend and it certainly seems as if any way you cut it, Angel di Maria does not belong in this Manchester United squad as it’s currently constructed. Naturally, he’s a strong enough player (and paid well enough, too) that Louis van Gaal will have to make room for him on the field. But something has to change with the attack shored up, Juan Mata holding down the middle, and an infusion of di Maria into the current midfield likely too lacking in defensive sensibility.
Two – For an imperfect fit, di Maria is expensive. That may seem like the most obvious bit of analysis you’ve ever come across, but stop and think for a moment. According to ABC News Man U signed di Maria for £59.7 million. Now, Man U may have an unlimited amount of cash, but one might think the last big splash (presumably) of the transfer window could have gone to a player who can fill a more obvious need.
Three – Defense is being ignored, and this signing is a resounding statement confirming that fact. As previously stated, one might think some of that £59.7 million could have been used more strategically. As football writer Ralph Ellis noted, that might mean giving a look to the defense, which was “the backbone” of Sir Alex Ferguson’s, title-winning Man U clubs. Indeed, the hiring of van Gaal and the transfer focus on attacking players seems to betray a certain troubling ignorance, or even stubbornness, on the part of Old Trafford management.
Four – Expectations are about to be absurd. The Western Morning News touched on this issue in stating that di Maria will be feeling the weight of fan expectations, but that’s true of any major transfer. The fact is, like it or not—and suited to the role or not—di Maria has now been thrust into the role of saviour, rather than just “talented new addition.” Van Gaal himself cautioned supporters not to think this way, but that surely won’t stop them. Di Maria will feel the weight of impossible expectation.
While he’s a world class midfielder who can make a real impact, he’s not suited alongside the club as currently comprised to step in and start a revolution. Some level of disappointment almost seems guaranteed.