Red Devils On For Top Four Return – Man United Preview
Premier League 2014/15
After what can only be described as a disastrous twelve months in charge, Ed Woodward and co. ruthlessly dropped the battle-weary David Moyes and replaced him with the renegade general, Louis Van Gaal. After a perfect pre-season, the Dutchman has Red Devils fans squirming with delight.
Van Gaal may have started his tenure with five wins from five but simply put, with this current squad, he still has a huge job on his hands to restore the throne to the Old Trafford. The Dutchman is a specialist in squeezing every drop of quality from the tools at his disposal – as the Oranje’s performances at the World Cup will attest to – but, at present, he just does not have enough to go the distance in this title race.
Whilst he does possess a number of quality players and a certain level of depth, the departures of Nemanja Vidic, Patrice Evra and Rio Ferdinand have left him shorn of proven quality and experience in defence.
Frankly speaking, a centre-half pairing – or trio – of Evans, Jones and Smalling isn’t good enough to win a league title. A midfield general is also a prerequisite to take this side back to the next level.
The likes of Ashley Young, Antonio Valencia and Javier Hernandez have been reborn under LVG and come kick-off, could be like new signings for the Old Trafford club.
After last year’s summer transfer debacle, Ed Woodward has not messed around. Deals for Ander Herrera and Luke Shaw were completed inside a couple of weeks.
Whilst overpaying for the young Southampton left back, United have nabbed themselves a player for the next decade and if last season’s performances are anything to go by, the 19 year-old has a big future in the game.
The signing of Herrara could be a masterstroke with time. The former Athletic Bilbao midfielder is a dynamo in the centre of the park and his versatility – he can play as a 6, 8 or 10 – will be vital for the coming season.
United still could do with a partner alongside Herrera and whilst they have flirted harmlessly with Arturo Vidal all summer, any deal looks unlikely at this point. Kevin Strootman may also be an option but the young Dutchman is still recovering from a bad knee injury so that particular deal may have to wait until January.
Someone of the physicality of AC Milan’s Nigel De Jong could beautifully complement a technically suave Herrera and Carrick, with his reputation as a mere carthorse underestimating his talents.
Surely more signings will come before the end of the window, though. Van Gaal is a canny enough operator to know how strong or weak his squad is and will not take any chances. He needs more quality and he knows it.
Last season was a huge fall from grace for Manchester United but under the leadership of Van Gaal, I foresee a decent season ahead.
The increase in belief and tactical awareness since the Dutchman has taken over is akin to watching a busted ball having air blown back into it.
Whilst I don’t believe United have quite enough to win back the title, I do think a return to the top four and Champions League football is eminently possible. Anything less should, and will, be seen as failure.