There are only 4 weeks to wait ‘til the start of the Premier League. Over the next few weeks @0riginalfooty will preview the new season, take a look at each team and offer our predictions as to where each side will finish. Here we take a look at Manchester United.
The last year has seen turbulent times for the red half of Manchester. Alex Ferguson departed and was replaced by the so called “Chosen One” David Moyes who endured one of United’s worst seasons in living memory. Moyes has since been sacked and replaced by Louis van Gaal who has just guided the Netherlands to third place in the World Cup. United fans are expecting a big response to last season’s failings and a top 4 place will be the minimum expectation.
Louis van Gaal is a very experienced, well-respected and outspoken coach who has won league titles in Spain, the Netherlands and Germany. He is no stranger to managing a club having been in charge of Ajax, Barcelona and Bayern Munich and he looks far more comfortable in this environment than David Moyes ever was.
United have already spent £56 million on two major signings: Luke Shaw and Ander Herrera. Herrera has been signed from Athletic Bilbao and will be a much-needed new option in the centre of the United midfield. Shaw has moved from Southampton and will replace Patrice Evra, who has completed a move to Juventus, as United’s first choice left-back.
Who is tipped to join them?
The list of players that are linked with United is probably longer than any other Premier Club this summer due to the huge shakeup expected under new management and the numerous weak spots in United’s squad. High profile midfielders such as Arturo Vidal and Paul Pogba have been continually linked throughout the summer as the centre of the park has been highlighted as one of their weakest areas. United are also believed to be linked with winger Juan Cuadrado but face a battle with Bayern Munich and Barcelona to secure his services. Finally, Dutch centre-backs Ron Vlaar and Stefan de Vrij have been touted as possible replacements for the departed Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic.
Who should they sign?
Ed Woodward has claimed that United have a large amount of money to be spent on new players this summer and van Gaal will most probably need it all. Replacements for Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand must be near the top of van Gaal’s priority list, as the heart of United’s defence looks particularly weak with their departures. Another area that they appear short of quality is in the centre of midfield so it’s no surprise to see them linked with Vidal and Pogba. In reality, United are 5 players away from challenging for the title: two centre-backs, cover at left-back, a centre-midfielder and a winger. If they can complete the signings of all the players they are linked with, then they will be in a very strong position coming in to the new season.
Robin van Persie. Van Persie endured a tough season in Manchester last time around, suffering through injury and loss of form. However, under van Gaal, who named van Persie his Dutch captain, he has felt much more at ease. United will be hopeful he can transfer the form he has shown at international level to club level and return to being one of the world’s deadliest strikers.
I am expecting van Gaal to bring in several new players and to inspire United towards the summit of the table once more. There are many other strong sides at the top end of the table that should still finish above the Red Devils but a fourth place finish would represent good progress and a much desired return to the Champions League. Expect United to finish 4th.