Louis van Gaal enjoyed a productive first season at Man United and did what was needed in returning to Champions League football. As the Dutch manager enters his second season in charge, can he lead the Red Devils back to the title?
Manager: Louis van Gaal
Home ground: Old Trafford
Last season: 4th
Highest EPL accolade: Winners (1993, ’94, ’96, ’97, ’99, ’00, ’01, ’03, ’07, ’08, ’09, ’11, ’13)
For the past couple of seasons, Wayne Rooney has featured as an attacking midfielder for Man United but after the departures of Falcao and Robin van Persie, it looks like Rooney will be United’s main man up front this season and could prove the difference maker between a top four finish and a title challenge.
As the 29-year-old enters his 12th season at Old Trafford, Rooney will be hoping a return to his more favourite striker position and make a challenge for the golden boot. The England international still managed 12 goals for the Red Devils last season but will be hoping for more of a target of the 27 goals he scored in the 2011-12 campaign.
The Man United captain will hope he can inspire his team pack into the title challenge after a tough couple of seasons at Old Trafford and will hope to bang in the goals weeks after week and help secure a 14th Premier League title come May.
Angel Di Maria (PSG – £44.3m), Robin van Persie (Fenerbache – Undisclosed), Nani (Fenerbache – £4.25m), Rafael (Lyon – £2m), Tom Cleverley (Everton – Free), Angelo Henriquez (Dinamo Zagreb – Undisclosed), Ben Amos (Bolton – Free)
One to Watch
Not only will he be the one to watch for Man United this season, but new signing Memphis Depay will be one for all team’s to keep and eye out on and after United splashed out £31m on the 21-year-old, there must be some special set to come from left-winger.
The Dutchman scored 22 goals for PSV Eindhoven last season and United fans will hope he can reproduce that form for the Red Devils as they look to improve to last season’s 4th place. Depay is also no stranger to the Louis van Gaal style having played under him for The Netherlands so should have no problem settling in.
At just 21, Depay is being touted to be one of the world’s best in years to come and could become an instant hero for Man United should he continue his good form from pre-season. Angel Di Maria didn’t have the heart to play for United, but I have no doubt that Depay will show plenty of heart and determination to become one of the Premier League’s top wingers.
Darmian Smalling Rojo Shaw
Mata Rooney Depay
It has been a busy summer for Louis van Gaal in the transfer market with five new players arriving and he may not be done yet. Bastian Schweinsteiger brings plenty of experience with him, Morgan Schneiderlin has great potential, while Matteo Darmian arrives as a much-needed improvement at right-back.
However, the defence is still a big worry. In my opinion, a central defence of Chris Smalling and Marcos Rojo/Phil Jones is not a title-winning defence. Smalling improved vastly over the last season but he needs a strong and commanding partner for United to cut out those errors. If LVG bags a world-class defender, a title challenge is very much on.
Last season, the United squad was ragged with injuries and key to success this season is keeping the players fully fit because there is no doubt that this is a very talented squad. While I do believe we will see an improved United this season, I don’t think they are title contenders just yet. However, 2017 could be United’s year.