Disgruntled Manchester United fans are expected to protest against the Glazer family if the current transfer window ends without major investment.
The Red Devils started their Premier League campaign with defeat to Swansea, as boss Louis van Gaal named untested youngsters Tyler Blackett and Jesse Lingard in his starting lineup. Both posted assured performances, but Lingard's first-half injury and subsequent substitution underlined a squad that is severely lacking in world-class quality or depth.
Ian Ladyman of the Daily Mail reported the general feeling that United fans could be forced into the type of action that also took place in 2010:
Manchester United face the threat of a return to the days of ‘Green and Gold’ protests as impatient supporters grow increasingly angry at what they see as a lack of investment in the squad by owners the Glazer family.
Van Gaal now has 13 days to bring in new players. The Dutchman has failed to sign anyone since agreeing to Ander Herrera and Luke Shaw's arrivals—two targets outlined by previous boss David Moyes—and is said to be growing increasingly frustrated with his superiors, per Colin Harvey of the Daily Star. This feeling is sure to have intensified after the Swansea loss.
A lack of transparency at the club makes it difficult to determine who should take the blame. Van Gaal has always insisted he wouldn't buy until the right players become available, and he is unlikely to cloud his plans by picking up numbers for the sake of it.
Chief executive Ed Woodward insisted "we’re not afraid of spending significant amounts of money in the transfer market," per Jamie Jackson of The Guardian, but he has consistently failed to do so, despite appearing to take a major role in any transfer proceedings.
The Glazers lurk in the background, silently cashing in their shares after saddling their debt on the club, as reported by BBC News, without acknowledging the needs of both United's management team and supporters.
Such failures could lead many into protesting during United's Premier League home clash with Queens Park Rangers on Sept. 14. United fans were forced to watch their side get easily beaten on Saturday and will have looked on with envious eyes as mega signings positively influenced their rivals' results.
Alexis Sanchez's assist got Arsenal back into the game against Crystal Palace, while Cesc Fabregas' creativity and Diego Costa's goal thrust Chelsea to victory over Burnley. Even centre-back Eric Dier snatched a winner for Tottenham against West Ham on his debut, as the elite benefit from investments on the pitch.
David Conn of The Guardian questioned how the Glazers have been allowed to get into this position:
Former United right-back Gary Neville believes United shouldn't panic buy, per Sky Sports: "Of course they need to spend because they have to; they have to bring more players in. There’s no doubt about that. But it’s critical they bring the right players in."
While it's true United need to make sure any acquisitions suit the system Van Gaal wants to play, the Dutchman may find panic buying impossible at this stage of the transfer window anyway. United's needs are well known, meaning selling clubs will try to increase the price of any target, especially considering time is running out.
Marcos Rojo is the most likely signing right now, after the Sporting Lisbon defender admitted he is likely to join the club, per A Bola and O Jogo, via 101 Great Goals. A fee of around €20 million transfer is certainly top dollar for such a player.
As we've seen with the extortionate prices being reported for the likes of Arturo Vidal and Juan Cuadrado, United could simply be priced out of attempting to land the biggest names. These deals could potentially be halted due to a lack of long-term value—neither player will have much resell worth after one contract—not because the money isn't there to spend.
Right now, Moyes' failed tenure feels like the beginning of a major struggle for United. The Scotsman certainly isn't to blame if he genuinely tried to sign a number of players, but the club's lack of transparency ensures supporters don't know who to aim their frustrations at.
Some will opt for the manager because he dictates the team, others Woodward because he has spoken big and delivered little, while most will identify the root of all problems beginning with the Glazers' takeover.
Unfortunately, all three possible routes of blame are likely to be culpable for mistakes that ensure United fans have little control over their club's future, protest or not.