Arsenal legend Martin Keown believes that Louis van Gaal is doing no good to Manchester United with his transfer policy and that his decision to ship out most of their academy graduates will hurt them in the long run. The Red Devils have let Adnan Januzaj, Jonny Evans, Darren Fletcher and Danny Welbeck leave over the past two seasons, while bringing in Anthony Martial for a record £36m ($55m) fee from Monaco.
United are currently on seven points, level with Arsenal and Liverpool but ahead on goal difference. However, they are three points clear of defending Champions Chelsea, who got off to a slow start in the 2015/16 season. The Dutchman made a flurry of transfers in the opening few days of the transfer window, bringing in five new names to the squad, but was beaten by Chelsea in his pursuit of forward Pedro from Barcelona.
"What will hurt the fans is the loss of academy graduates who have United blood in their veins. There are only eight left from United's 2013 title-winning squad and with the likes of Danny Welbeck, Darren Fletcher, Tom Cleverley and Jonny Evans gone, there is a feeling that United are losing part of their identity," Keown said in his column in the Daily Mail.
"Big names come and go but Van Gaal is in danger of ripping out the core of the club. The same goes with their playing style. Everything looks controlled and safe but they do not attack like the old United," he added.
Keown was also critical of their purchase of Martial, stating that it is a huge gamble to take and the recent comparisons to Thierry Henry has not helped matters. United are short up front, with only Wayne Rooney the experienced striker in the squad. However, Van Gaal has revealed that he plans to use Marouane Fellaini up front and can also look to play the likes of Martial and Memphis Depay through the middle to add more pace.
"It is hard to imagine that kind of soap opera happening under Sir Alex Ferguson and David Gill. It was embarrassing. The signing of Anthony Martial is a huge gamble. He has been compared to Thierry Henry and if he is half as good then he will be a decent player.
"Van Gaal likes a pacey ball-carrier — he had Arjen Robben at Bayern Munich and tried and failed to make Angel di Maria that man at United — and Martial fits the bill. He might even be the answer to their striker dilemma but it is still a big risk to take on an uncapped youngster," he concluded.