Have Manchester United's six summer signings lived up to their £150m price tag?
After 21 Premier League matches in the 2013-14 season, then-Manchester United manager David Moyes had accrued 37 points.
A year and a £150million later, new United manager Louis van Gaal has accrued 37 points from 21 matches – Moyes’ team had even scored a goal more.
At this point last season questions were already being asked about whether Moyes was the right man to lead the club into the future; despite a terrible start, Van Gaal is yet to field such questions.
The club’s fans appear a lot more confident in the new manager, and with reinforcements likely on the way during this transfer window, United are still in strong contention to return to the Champions League.
But have the new signings lived up to their value and did they buy the right players during their summer spending spree (scroll through our gallery below)?
Against Southampton Radamel Falcao was left out of the squad – rested according to the coach – while Ander Herrera started from the bench. That’s more than £30m of talent left on the bench in a game against a side just below (now above) them in the table.
During United’s impressive 11-match unbeaten run it’s hard to point to any of the new signings and say they played a big part; Angel Di Maria, Marcos Rojo and Daley Blind were injured for much of it, Herrera mostly started from the bench and Falcao scored just twice in the run of games, though he was impressive in places.
Luke Shaw, a player who did not impress Van Gaal at the start of the season, has made more of an impact than any of the others, but it's clear that David De Gea and Wayne Rooney have been United's two best players this season.
Looking at their Premier League statistics, from WhoScored, Angel Di Maria has played more than any of the other signings with 940 minutes. But that is less than half of the 1,890 minutes that the club have played in total in the league this season.
Robin van Persie, Wayne Rooney and Juan Mata have all scored more than the new signings - Falcao is particularly culpable here - although Di Maria does lead the team in assists with six, ahead of Rooney's four; Falcao has a decent total of three.
The former Real Madrid star is also the team's most consistent dribbler, with 22 successful dribbles from 58 in total, and puts in on average 1.8 crosses per game, more than any other player, making his injury record all the more frustrating.
Falcao has only had 21 Premier League shots, though he is quite accurate with 11 on target. However, the total is way below Van Persie, who has fired away a total of 51 shots, with 25 of those on target to score eight times.
Defensively, Antonio Valencia has made the most tackles with 52 (Rojo is third with 26) and Phil Jones has made the most interceptions (41), although Rojo does perform well here (33), in second place. The £16m defender is also equal second with Jones in clearances (60), behind team-leading Chris Smalling (76). United's have had multiple injuries in defence all season, of course.
Michael Carrick is a much more accurate passer than both Herrera and Blind, though the Spaniard is a keener attacking threat with three assists of his own, and a bigger presence defensively.
Manchester United's summer signing assessed:
1. Ander Herrera (£29million)
A long-term target for the club, Herrera finally arrived from Bilbao for nearly £30m, United’s first move of the window. The Spaniard has had a couple of injury problems of his own but, inexplicably if you ask fans, has not found favour under Van Gaal. The midfielder, classy on the ball and strong in the tackle, looks a good player whenever he plays, but has only started six Premier League matches. Hit or Miss? MISS
2. Luke Shaw (£30m)
Struggled with fitness (and perhaps weight) issues at the start of the season, feeling Van Gaal’s wrath. Had to wait until the end of September to make his first start for his new team. Clearly talented the England teenager has grown in confidence and gained the confidence of his manager; Shaw is now a starter on the left when fit. HIT
3. Marcos Rojo (£16m)
Another who has struggled with injury problems, Rojo has only started 10 matches this season. Has been inconsistent and erratic in his performances and has a long way to go to reach the level of the men he replaced, Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand. MISS
4. Angel Di Maria (£59.7m)
The British record signing started his United career fantastically, looking like a player worth all the money that was paid for him. But sadly for the club he has picked up a series of injuries that have limited him to just 131 minutes of action since the end of November. United know they overpaid for him, but he will come good when fit. MISS
5. Daley Blind (£14m)
When Blind started his first couple of games, fans and pundits wondered if the club had found a new midfield linchpin. But Blind was then injured and Michael Carrick returned in great form, leaving a those same fans and pundits wondering what the fuss over the Dutchman was about. His versatility will come in handy in the future, however. MISS
6. Radamel Falcao (£6m loan)
The biggest disappointment of them all, Falcao arrived on an expensive loan deal that United are now hesitant of extending. The Colombian star has played well in spots, but he was bought for his goals and has produced just three of them in his 13 matches. Still far from full fitness or his very best, a permanent deal will not happen unless Monaco lower their £43m asking price, or the striker begins to find the kind of form that made him one of the world’s best. MISS
Do you agree with our assessment? Let us know in the comments below.
Independent News Service