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Why Another Manchester United Spending Spree Is Pointless If Van Gaal Doesn't Adjust His Philosophy

29/01/2015 17:18 GMT | Updated 31/03/2015 10:59 BST

He didn't promise immediate success. But while Louis van Gaal is laying the foundations for his new-look Manchester United, a growing section of supporters are disenchanted by their team's continuous vapid displays.

Much has been, and will continue to be, made of the fact that on Friday night, United - even after spending £150m last summer - couldn't even manage to score against League Two outfit Cambridge United. Chances were too few, build up play was slow and it was an all-round disappointing night.

*Another all-round disappointing night, correct.

Has there even been a match under Van Gaal where United have played to their best? Victories over Arsenal and Liverpool came with a certain element of luck attached towards the end of 2014, but so far they have failed to hit the heights of an early season stroll over Harry Redknapp's QPR.

Though even the 4-0 win at Old Trafford - which has been arguably their most impressive display - doesn't look as handsome considering the R's have lost all ten of their Premier League matches on the road this season.

United are a still work in progress, and Van Gaal has been keen to stress that.

Given his track record too before his arrival, there's faith still standing that the enigmatic Dutchman will get it right. He has to, really. Too much has been spent on a squad overhaul, and it's not even half complete if you believe what you read.

More big names have been linked. Gareth Bale. Lionel Messi. Mats Hummels. Marco Reus. Kevin Strootman. Paul Pogba. The list doesn't end, and it never will. The new £750m kit deal with Adidas (which starts next season) will see to that.

But what good are new big money signings if their best attributes aren't utilised? Will £120m be spent on Gareth Bale just to see him slot in at wing-back? It's all well and good experimenting, but Van Gaal will be dealing with very expensive pieces of a jigsaw.

You don't have to look far to see a case in point in the utilisation stakes.

Angel di Maria started life at Old Trafford with a spring in his step. His biggest assets - pace, desire, the ability to beat players - added a new dimension to United's midfield. In the early part of the season, the Argentinian won plaudits for being the club's new driving force through the centre of the pitch.

Injury took its toll, and Di Maria played just 30 minutes of football over seven Premier League games through December and the start of January - with an added half an hour in United's FA Cup third round win at Yeovil.

That afternoon, Di Maria netted a breakaway goal from his position up front after being slotted in to a one-on-one situation by Wayne Rooney. He took the goal with the aplomb expected of somebody who would cost £60m, and all was well.

However, Van Gaal's insistence to stick with Di Maria as a forward since then has been counter-productive. He may not have appeared there last time out at Cambridge, but the Dutchman has explained that he likes having the option of Di Maria's pace 'to make the pitch bigger' - and given 4-4-2 'makes his ass twitch' - it won't be the last time the former Real Madrid man plays there.

But if that's the plan, the team need to play to his strengths. United cannot rely on the threat of Di Maria's pace in behind if they don't actively look to use it.

The only thing it will force defences to do is drop back, and while that's maybe that's what Van Gaal in terms of making the pitch bigger, United have shown little-to-no aptitude of how to break down a well-organised unit that sits in front of them.

If you've watched a Manchester United game this season, you'll know just how mundane a watch it has turned into. It's a chore, even. Defensive solidity and possession football have been (somewhat) mastered, but the will of United to play sideways makes it seem like a mistake that 'safe-passing master' Tom Cleverley was shipped out to Aston Villa at the start of the season.

It wasn't (of course it wasn't), but Cleverley's style is the exact style of football United were supposed to be looking to get away from.

The fact of the matter is, Di Maria's talents are limited playing with his back to goal. So Van Gaal has a choice to make. Either stop trying to fit square pegs in round holes - or find a cultivate a playing style to suit him, show some element of directness, and get him playing on the front foot.

It's a complete waste of money, otherwise.

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