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Aug 22, 2014

Change the watchword at United

Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal unveiled his new signing, Marcos Rojo, on Friday afternoon and was typically forthright regarding transfers. Instead of feeding the growing frenzy around United's need for reinforcements, he simply espoused the need for time and patience. At least he seems calm.

While panic would be too strong a word, there is a growing sense of unease at Old Trafford. Last week's miserable performance against Swansea has set the alarm bells ringing, and Manchester United appear desperate for a result already. The Stadium of Light proved a happy hunting ground last season and was the scene of one of United's rare bright spots in the Premier League.

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On the back of a limp 2-1 home loss to West Brom, United pitched up in Sunderland with their opponents rock bottom of the table with just a point. United made incredibly hard work of it but, with a blistering debut from Adnan Januzaj, took the points, thanks to the young man's double.

Januzaj looked the most dangerous of United's players last week too, and in light of Ander Herrera's injury, which will cause the Spaniard to miss this weekend's affair, the hope is that on Sunday, Januzaj will be joined by Robin van Persie, who is clear to start after an extended World Cup rest. It would be good to have those two on the field, because off the pitch, United are shambolic right now.

The news that Van Gaal has told Danny Welbeck he can leave the club has also emerged and is a blow to the heart of the fan base. It is part of the process of team building that Van Gaal was hired to do, and fans should expect more change in the coming months.

Refreshingly, Van Gaal is beautifully consistent in keeping his conversations with the players private: "Danny knows what I have said and I know what I have said." There will be change, in other words, but not always explanations.

Welbeck, youth team product, United fan and scorer of United's goal in the Bernabeu two years ago against Real Madrid in the Champions League, was noticeably spiky last season and felt bold enough to publicly challenge former boss David Moyes' assertion that he didn't train hard enough.

A lack of transfer activity from manager Louis van Gaal is starting to create angst among the Manchester United faithful.
A lack of transfer activity from manager Louis van Gaal is starting to create angst among the Manchester United faithful.

There are those who had hoped he might join the ranks of Gary Neville, Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes as one-club men. Another camp always thought his finishing was not of the highest standard.

Without question though, Welbeck is strong, quick, hard-working and a decent professional. He will be an asset to whichever team picks him up. The assumption is that Van Gaal is sufficiently happy with the form of James Wilson to let Welbeck go.

New signing Rojo, whose work permit has not yet been finalised, wheeled out the usual "it's a great honour, biggest club in the world" lines for a new United player. His manager was able to clarify that he had analysed Rojo when facing him in the World Cup and that he was "enthusiastic" about his potential.

Rojo can play as the left-sided centre-back, which indicates he may play centrally for United as well as at left wing-back. On the length of time it took to close his deal, the former Sporting Lisbon man said, "It was a long process; the most important thing is I am here now."

Much of the unease among supporters is centred around how sluggish United have been in closing deals in the past three transfer windows. It was clear a fortnight ago that Rojo wanted to join, yet he was only unveiled on Friday. It doesn't inspire confidence.

Van Gaal was happy to answer Scholes' suggestion that United need five more players. "The fans of Manchester United are intelligent," he said. "The first three months will be difficult."

It has certainly been a difficult week, with some fans even starting a petition to have executive chairman Ed Woodward removed. A strong victory at the weekend would be most welcome, but United still need new players, whether that happens or not.

Follow Mark on Twitter.

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