20-year-old Luke Shaw looked certain to fulfil the promise that persuaded United to sign him for £27 million while £36 million man Anthony Martial is a world-class forward in the making.
Glance elsewhere, though, and you have a collection of names looking good on paper but not on the pitch, failing to address the serious issues that have held us back.
We needed pace and drive to complement steady midfield anchor Michael Carrick, but instead got Bastian Schweinsteiger- world class on paper but now a 31-year-old, slow motion advert with his best days behind him.
The likes of Ander Herrera, Marcos Rojo, Matteo Darmian, Memphis and Morgan Schneiderlin were in and out like some form of Van Gaal hokey-cokey.
Daley Blind, a trusted figure of Van Gaal's latter spell with the Netherlands, has been solid but unspectacular following his £13 million signing from Ajax.
An outlay of £90 million was offset by the departures of Di Maria, Nani, Robin van Persie, Jonny Evans, Danny Welbeck and Javier Hernandez.
RVP was past his best and unceremoniously hustled out of the door by the man he was once very close to.
James Wilson spent the season on loan at Brighton, Adnan Januzaj went to Dortmund but then returned having made no impression, but for all his manoeuvring in the market Van Gaal ignored the glaring flaw in United's defence.
Chris Smalling has shone but Phil Jones and Rojo injury prone and lack of success in the transfer marker has been a trademark since Ferguson and David Gill departed and Van Gaal has picked up the tab.
His departure was also shaped by circumstances beyond his control and he has not had enough credit for stabilising United from the chaos of the Moyes era to get us back into the Champions League in 2015.
The brilliance of Ferguson in his final season in 2013 covered a multitude of cracks in the Old Trafford facade as he dragged a squad in urgent need of renewal over the line for his 13th and final Premier League title almost by his own willpower alone.
Van Gaal had repairs to carry out and his work behind the scenes was well regarded by those in power.
It was result s- the most important currency of all - where he failed to give long term value.
He deserves plus points for his willingness to blood youngsters.
Tony Martial is a snip at £36 million and will be world class, Marcus Rashford has thrived under Van Gaal and Jesse Lingard was trusted and repaid with the FA Cup final winner in one of a number of eye-catching performances from the 23 year old.
Cameron Borthwick-Jackson and Tim Fosu-Mensah also won Van Gaal's faith amid of string of injury problems.
Wayne Rooney, Schneiderlin, Shaw, Jones, Rojo, Valencia, Herrera, Smalling and Antonio Valencia spent long periods of the season on the sidelines so while Van Gaal has largely been the architect of his own demise, other factors worked against him.
It was never, in the final reckoning, going to be enough to save him.