When you enter Louis van Gaal’s office, the first thing you notice is the spartan decor. Nothing too fancy for him. Just a few pictures on the wall – one of the grandkids, one of him and the wife when they visited the world’s most photographed barn, one of the time he invented football – and a desk.
On the right of the desk lies a Manchester United mouse mat, right beside which there is a Manchester United pencil case filled with the Manchester United 24-piece colour pencil tube set and the Manchester United ultimate stationery set. Beside this, lies a big red panic button which has been replaced three times since Van Gaal took over and which sets off an almighty klaxon when pressed, forcing Ed Woodward to leg it to Van Gaal’s side at once. Once there, Ed wipes the sweat and panic from his brow, gets on one knee and asks Van Gaal, what can he do to keep him happy.
Previously, Van Gaal asked for simple things like a single pillow of Shredded Wheat, some steamed toast, a dodo egg and to have his office rotated so the window faces the hills. This time, however, he wants something bigger and bolder. He wants William Carvalho from Sporting Lisbon and he wants him now.
Ed will take Louis by one hand, run his fingers through the Dutchman’s hair with the other and in soothing tones reassure him that Carvalho will be his. But once outside the office the sweat will start dripping down his face again for Ed knows that he is not the only man willing to sign a cheque for £23.8m and that other rivals for Carvalho can offer the Portuguese international European football, not least Arsenal. In other Manchester United transfer news, Tom Cleverley, Danny Welbeck, Shinji Kagawa and Anderson will be told they have as much as chance of making it at the club as the Mill does of landing a small role in a Broadway musical.
Elswehere, over the past few days Brendan Rodgers could be found dressed in a green visor, a brown three-piece suit and a black tie as he added and subtracted all the money that Liverpool have spent this summer. Much to his delight he has found that he has £10m left in the bank. Now this money could be spent investing in the youth set-up at Anfield or on classes teaching Mario Balotelli how to put on a bib but instead Rodgers is going to give Barcelona a call and ask them how much it would cost for him to take Alex Song off their hands. Once the person at the other end of the line recovers from the shock of another club being interested in the Cameroon midfielder, they’ll chance their arm by saying £10m. Rodgers will shout “deal!” and before you know it Song will be kissing the crest, touching the Welcome to Anfield sign and tweeting #YNWA.
After being told the good news that he will not be forced to play Olivier Giroud for a bit, Arsène Wenger was hit with the bad bit – he is going to have to spend some more this summer. Now Wenger could probably use that Gallic charm of his to entice many a top, top striker to his club, but that would cost money and Wenger likes to dish the dosh almost as much as the Mill likes to drink from a toilet bowl. And so he has spent the past few days dreaming up the cheapest alternative. And who could that be? ( Warning: if you are an Arsenal fan, the answer to this question may cause spontaneous combustion.) Why, none other than Nikola Zigic. Yes. That Nikola Zigic.
Finally, if you bump into Wilfried Zaha on the street and ask him how life and Manchester United is going, he’ll probably say he is loving it and learning every day and all that jazz. In fact, he spends most of his time listening to sad love songs and crying into his pillow. But cry no more, dear Wilfried, for Neil Warnock is about to hop on a white horse and ride to your rescue by offering a return to Selhurst Park. It is an opportunity that the young man will grasp with both hands. He won’t be the only one going south for the winter. Gastón Ramírez is leaving Southampton and doing one to Sevilla. Once there, he’ll wander the twisted streets and eat tortillas and wonder which movie was better – The Breakfast Club or Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. The Mill thinks it is the latter, but there’s no accounting for taste.