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Manchester United are still paying the price for the failures of the van Gaal era

José Mourinho has been demanding in the transfer market, but he inherited a bigger mess than many fans are willing to admit.

Manchester City v Feyenoord - UEFA Champions League Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

If you’re a Manchester United supporter, the recent and consistent letdowns from Ed Woodward & company are nothing new. The scapegoat for the majority of United’s summer transfer catastrophe, it’s nearly impossible to imagine a scenario in which this current roster could in any fashion challenge bitter rivals Manchester City for the Premier League title.

Naturally, blame has also been directed at manager José “The Special One” Mourinho. The Portuguese boss refuses to accept much of the fault, insisting that Woodward has been stingy with his pocketbook. Likewise, Woodward condemns Mourinho through his media briefings for being ungrateful for his multimillion additions so far.

Perhaps—and hear me out fellow Red Devils fans—Mou was dealt an unfavorable hand of cards prior to even being named manager of Manchester United. United Class of ’92 alum and former skipper Gary Neville believes United are still recovering from the remnants left by former manager Louis van Gaal.

In three years with the club, the Dutchman signed a total of 13 players. While his tenure at Old Trafford proved to be an error of many sorts, he gifted supporters with favorites Anthony Martial and Ander Herrera.

Speaking to Sky Sports, Neville did not mince words regarding van Gaal’s mistakes.

“It hasn’t gone well, but you’ve got to remember José Mourinho has spent a lot of money, but the Louis van Gaal signings I have to say were really poor.”

The legendary right-back added, “So José Mourinho has had to get out of the club seven, eight, nine, 10 players, and then get them in. He’s only been here two years, he’s not been here 15 years.”

He’s not wrong. Out of the 13 signings, only 6 remain. Out of those 6, half of them remain at the top of Mou’s starting XI.

In fact, its clear Mourinho wasn’t modest in expressing his desire to undo everything from the van Gaal days. Whether it’s shedding the dead weight in out of form players or reentering top-four territory, the man was on a mission bring some credibility back to the Manchester United name. With the most recent departure of Daley Blind, Mou is one player less from achieving his dream team. If the boss can find an eventual suitor for Tony Martial and Matteo Darmian, the memory of Louis van Gaal will be simply relegated to a 2014 undefeated preseason and a 2015/2016 FA Cup championship.

Despite starting the new campaign with three points, time has never been less on Mourinho’s side regarding adding to the trophy case. Since Sir Alex Ferguson bid adieu to his managerial duties, United have splashed £700 million on new signings. The Mourinho era is responsible for £300 million of that investment.

Even with the addition of choice stars Romelu Lukaku, Paul Pogba and Alexis Sánchez, morale across the United community is stale, and internal conflicts outweigh success on the pitch.

In order to correct the blemishes made by the former Netherlands manager, United’s actions between now and the next transfer window must be either focused on grooming existing players to perform at the expected United potential or better yet, controlling the narrative that the dressing room is a turbulent environment.

While Mourinho still has time to save his job, he absolutely must create a culture that entices the finest players to call the Theatre of Dreams their new home. Just in this summer window, the number of reports from players reluctant to play under Mou skyrocketed. Even the managr’s resume of trophies was not enough of a sell for the likes of Tottenham’s Toby Alderweireld and Bayern Munich’s Jerome Boateng (to name a couple). Does the hesitation to endure even a month of a public Mourinho attack outweigh the desperation to win a title? It appears so.

This isn’t the Manchester United starting XI José Mourinho aimed to have in place, but it’s the Manchester United starting XI José Mourinho must fix. Gary Neville is absolutely correct in his assertion that it could be many years before fans are reintroduced to an era where playing at Old Trafford is an opponent’s worst nightmare. Unfortunately for Mou, his weekly quarrels with the media and Ed Woodward are a probable indication that his days in charge are numbered.