Louis van Gaal
7 th Place in 2013-14
Last season was not a good season to be a United fan. For the first time in the Premier League era, the club would be without Sir Alex Ferguson, but fans were comfortable with the Scotsman’s decision to appoint his compatriot, David Moyes. It looked a good decision, with the well-respected then-Everton manager appearing to be just the symbol of consistency the club wanted. Unfortunately, it was not exactly the kind of consistency that fans wanted to carry over, but rather another Moyes-consistent 7 th place finish.
This season, United fans have a lot to look forward to, and not a lot to look back on. Louis van Gaal has changed the shape of the team, and all through preseason we’ve seen him transform the lackluster players of last season into ones that that masterfully execute anything the eccentric genius asks of them. The change to 3-5-2 seems to suit the quick possession game van Gaal is forcing on the Red Devils, and with these tactics, last season’s creativity problems should be solved. However, with this new system comes a new problem.
Manchester United have five No. 9s and four No. 10s according to Ed Woodward, but one thing they certainly lack is depth on the wings. The cost of signing English teenage sensation Luke Shaw raised a few eyebrows, but his role in van Gaal’s team seems to justify the price tag and wages that United are paying. However, he seems to be the only player in the entire squad who is capable of being an attacking fullback. Even he didn’t satisfy his Dutch manager at first, with van Gaal claiming Shaw was unfit, and even sent him to train on his own. Ashley Young was terribly unimpressive on the right wing so he’ll return to the left side, and Antonio Valencia lacks the defensive workrate required to make the starting eleven.
This opening should see van Gaal make use of the transfer market once more, after signing Shaw and Spanish midfielder Ander Herrera. The never-ending sagas linking Manchester United to Vidal and di Maria must materialize in order for the Red Devils to achieve the depth they want. A versatile defender should also be a top priority, but it looks like Louis van Gaal is already set on bringing in Daley Blind, who played under the Dutch manager at the World Cup. The other players recently linked to the Red Devils are Colombian winger Juan Cuadrado and Dutch(of course) winger Memphis Depay, and they would also be good solutions to the winger crisis. Mats Hummels is also constantly linked with a switch to Old Trafford.
Predicted Finish: 3 rd
Louis van Gaal has reportedly been told that he must achieve a top-four finish to keep his position, and I see no reason that can’t happen.
Key Players: Robin van Persie, Wayne Rooney
Robin van Persie has been struggling with injuries his whole career, but was hit with a series of injuries that took his minutes total down to half of what it was for the past two seasons. His lack of match fitness is concerning, and should his woes continue, the pressure will be on Wayne Rooney to produce. Between the two of them, United have the quality to make a push for the ninety goal mark.
Transfer Window Success: 6.5/10
There is still a lot that can be done in the transfer window as far as United are concerned, and for the amount they’ve spent (£75 million), they haven’t quite managed to sign players as world class as their transfer fees would suggest.