unprecedented summer spending spree. An outlay of over £150 million over six players from five different nationalities has come as a stark reminder to the traditionalists and supporters of values and homegrown talent that United simply couldn't afford to rely on careful, methodical spending and a host of fringe players anymore nor did the club have Sir Alex Ferguson's genius to win trophies with a squad in desperate need of quality. Last year's disappointing seventh place finish can be seen as a watershed moment for the club, forcing the club to evolve in a swift manner.
As the transfer window slammed shut, United had time to complete two transactions. Radamel Falcao, one of the world's best strikers signed for the club in a historically
expensive loan deal, while Danny Welbeck, a local Mancunian who has been at the club for 14 years, made way by signing for Arsenal. Despite having an underwhelming goal scoring record of 29 goals in 142 games, Welbeck was one of the first names on the team sheet when Sir Alex Ferguson promoted him to the first team and quickly became
one of his favorite players for his work ethic, energy and passion.
Ferguson's long-time assistant voice his concerns, claiming that this move shows a huge shift from Sir Alex Ferguson and Manchester United's principles. BBC Sport reported Phelan as saying:
"They have probably lost the way of Manchester United a little bit.
"Now, rather than produce, it may be the case where they are buying in.
"Someone like a Danny Welbeck has been part of United's identity and that has been broken.
"What will happen in the future now, nobody knows but that thread has been broken now."
David Beckham echoed the sentiments felt by the ex-United
coach and said he was hopeful United will continue investing in youth and promoting youngsters.
Speak to BBC Sport the former England captain said:
"Manchester United have always bought players in but also have had a great scouting system which Sir Alex Ferguson put in quite a few years ago, where we did create home-grown talent, and that is something we have done over the years."
While long-term planning is a must for a club, it can be argued that the same attachment to traditions and values has held United back a lot in the past. The change had to take place and seeds were planted when Ed Woodward decided to let go of David Moyes, despite the long-term tradition of giving managers time.
This was a classic case of those much talked about traditions holding the club back. In times where spending levels are growing quickly despite attempts of UEFA using the Financial Fair Play, it is inconceivable for a club to maintain
long-term success while staying committed to values established decades ago. In the same fashion, the reliance one homegrown players who are not good enough to maintain
first team roles held the club back last season. Welbeck along with the likes of Cleverley is a good player and will prove to be a decent contributor to Arsenal's aspirations.
However, Van Gaal has always been ruthless and doesn't factor in parameters such as age or nationality. He has shown this for
example by starting a 17-year-old Clarence Seedorf in his Champions League winning campaign in 1994-1995.
It should be also noted that while United's spending this summer has been impressive this summer, having broken the British transfer record with the signing of Di Maria, the massive spending spree comes after year of under investment.
The average net transfer spending from 2005 to 2013 was £17 million per year despite pocketing £80 million from the sale of Cristiano Ronaldo in 2009. The spending we have seen this year doesn't mean United are becoming a big spending club of mercenaries, it was required to bring the team back at the level it should be.
As for the academy as a whole, the club hasn't produced the quality from the ranks that it did in 1992 for example.
However, one must keep in mind that the primary goal of the academy is to produce professional footballers whether they end up being good enough for United or not. We all love to see an academy graduate become an Old Trafford star.
However, despite not producing quality players for the team, the United academy has managed to produce more players than any other academy in England and is the only English side to make the top ten in the category among Europe's top five clubs, according to a study made by Sporting Intelligence in 2012.
I'm not saying that United should ignore the foundations laid by the likes of Sir Matt Busby. By keeping the likes of Ryan Giggs at the club, United will try to connect the club's
ambitious future with the club's values. Giggs, speak to Jim White of the Telegraph said:
"I'm the person who knows Manchester United inside out.
"Just passing on my experience of the place to the new coaching staff, to the new players is important. It's my job to let everyone know what's it's all about representing this club."
In the future, we might see many young homegrown players given a prolonged stay in the first team if they aren't good enough. We will see more big spending to cover the team's needs and attract big players rather than settle for decent but not excellent players.
However, with the likes of Ryan Giggs around, the academy won't be ignored, the likes of Januzaj will undoubtedly get a chance. That being said, mistakes won't be tolerated and the club will be more ruthless and less sentimentalist when letting go of young players.
The club's identity is not broken, it is just evolving to keep the club at the top.
Culled from MUFCLatest.com