Comment: Restoring Man Utd’s winning DNA will take more than transfer war chest

The FA’s latest plans to sort out the England team’s ‘DNA’ were published this week, billed – yet again – as the starting point for creating an England team capable of winning tournaments.

It’s a step in the right direction and something that should be given the best part of a decade or more to bear any fruit, such is the nature of building a national team.

Recovering Manchester United’s DNA, however, is evidently a far more immediate issue for the Old Trafford hierarchy.

Louis van Gaal has again been promised another vast transfer budget to continue re-shaping his United squad, on top of the £150million spent in the last window.

The idea is, of course, to do whatever it takes to get United back into the Champions League and stay there, restoring the revenue streams lost this season: ‘doing a Liverpool’ and relinquishing their place at Europe’s top table for a number of years is unthinkable.




Angel Di Maria, Daley Blind, and Radamel Falcao could soon be followed by the likes of Diego Godin, Mats Hummels, and Kevin Strootman.

But while those additions would go some way to mending United’s numerous problems – problems that are still very much there despite four consecutive wins – they represent just one element of the continuing post-Ferguson rebuild.

Clearing the decks of the mediocre talent that got United into this mess in the first place is hardly straightforward, as this summer proved.

Anderson, Nani, Javier Hernandez, Tom Cleverley, Wilfried Zaha, and more will have to be shipped off to new clubs.

Decisions have to be made on the futures of Rafael, Phil Jones, Chris Smalling, and Jonny Evans, who are all out of contract at the end of the season.

Young players like James Wilson, Tyler Blackett, and Paddy McNair have great promise but seeing that fulfilled will require exceptional judgment on the part of the coaching staff, in terms of where and how often they play.

With the huge turnover of players still to come, Van Gaal’s task of imprinting his style of play onto the team and setting some kind of long-term plan in motion becomes very testing indeed.




It has taken more than three months for United to string together a run of form this season, and three of those four recent victories have hardly been convincing.

An even greater upheaval next summer could well mean another stuttering start.

There have been signs of the United of old creeping back, not least the ability to win games without being at anything like their best.

But recovering the kind of winning mentality and sheer self belief that propelled them to two decades of staggering success under Sir Alex Ferguson’s watch can’t be done overnight or with money alone.

A team’s DNA, as the FA will be at pains to stress over the next few years, is something that takes a long time to perfect.

United have a good base to build from, and will certainly add significantly to it in the next eight months or so, but have a long way to go yet – no matter how big the transfer kitty is.

Main image courtesy of Jonny Blair via YouTube, with thanks.

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