Manchester United Season Preview
Ahead of the new Premier League season, Sky Sports examines Manchester United's strengths and weaknesses as well as giving you the chance to select your preferred United XI...
By Adam Bate
Last Updated: 14/08/14 12:16pm
Are Manchester United ready to bounce back under Louis Van Gaal? Here's the lowdown on what's new at Old Trafford.
It’s been all change at Old Trafford with the arrival of Louis van Gaal as the domineering Dutchman sets about doing things his way. There have been amendments at the training ground and moans about the summer tour but after the club’s worst Premier League finish last season, United fans will be most interested in the changes on the pitch. The buzz has already returned after the International Champions Cup win but nobody is in any doubt Van Gaal has a big job on his hands.
Ander Herrera and Luke Shaw arrived early in the summer in big-money deals, but it seems plenty more potential signings have failed to come off given the vast number of high-profile players linked with the club during the transfer window. Expect more on that before the window closes but perhaps the biggest change at Old Trafford is likely to be the team’s formation with Van Gaal set to stick with the 3-5-2 that secured a podium position for the Dutch in Brazil.
Robin van Persie already has a good working relationship with Van Gaal and Juan Mata will surely prove a pivotal playmaker for United this season, but perhaps the most intriguing figure is that of Wayne Rooney. There is always speculation when a new manager comes in regarding his thoughts on the existing talent but the early signs are good for Rooney after impressing in the United States and has since been made captain. Will the England forward enjoy himself playing for Van Gaal?
Van Gaal has improved the feel-good factor but not everything can be blamed on Moyes. United have lost three experienced defenders in Patrice Evra, Rio Ferdinand and skipper Nemanja Vidic so United look short in that area and the midfield problem has yet to be solved either. Van Gaal himself admits it is an imbalanced squad and given that no team has won the Premier League playing 3-5-2 perhaps the real challenge at Old Trafford will be keeping expectations in check.
Sky Bet Title odds – 5/1
- Manchester United finished outside the top six in 2013/14 for the first time since 1989-90.
- Manchester United made 999 crosses (inc corners) last season, more than any other side.
- Marouane Fellaini provided one assist and no goals last season in the Premier League after coming up with five assists and 11 goals for Everton in 2012-13.
It’s hard to judge how a team will do by looking at their pre-season results, but the summer has obviously gone well for United. A lot has been made of their new system but it’s not something we haven’t seen before; it’s 3-5-2. It’s not like Louis van Gaal has got an extra player. It’s a good system, we played it at Liverpool and he’s played it with Holland. You get two up front so he can play Robin van Persie with Wayne Rooney, but I still think they’re three or four players away from returning to the top four. If he gets those in before the deadline, fine, but if not, then I don’t think they’ll make it. I certainly don’t see them as title contenders. No one has a magic wand, Van Gaal included.