Premier League profile 2015/16: Manchester United
It has been another interesting yet busy summer at Old Trafford, not to mention expensive. Having secured a Champions League place, albeit needing to progress via a play-off place, Manchester United acted swiftly in the transfer window following the end of last season.
At 11/2 with Coral to win Premier League this term, these are certainly attractive odds based on their proactive summer, which has featured a recruitment policy which has pulled no punches.
One of the biggest problem areas from last season (central midfield) has been more than taken care of by the signings of Morgan Schneiderlin and the vastly experienced Bastian Schweinsteiger, who represents a real coup.
While the former was one of the best midfielders in the Premier League last season, the latter has won almost everything there is to win, including the Bundesliga, DFB Pokal and Champions League with Bayern Munich, while he also helped Germany to a World Cup triumph, who Schweinsteiger now skippers.
Add in Michael Carrick, Ander Herrera and Marouane Fellaini, and United are well-stocked in the centre of the park. With Daley Blind also capable of playing there, Van Gaal has plenty of options and deciding which his best combination is will be a hard task.
The biggest question mark hanging over the club this summer is whether goalkeeper David De Gea will stay, though it seems Van Gaal didn’t want to take any chances as he snapped up Argentina number one Sergio Romero. However, he could well be a replacement for Victor Valdes, who is being tipped to leave after a short spell at the Red Devils.
It seems likely that De Gea will stay at the club for this term before being granted a move to Real Madrid for fee and, after arguably being United’s most consistent performer in 2014/15, will be just as pivotal in Van Gaal’s second season in charge.
In front of him, Marcos Rojo, Chris Smalling, Phil Jones, Paddy McNair and Jonny Evans will fight it out for a place. Having pursued Sergio Ramos earlier in the summer without success, the Red Devils may well decide to enter the market for reinforcements before the window closes.
Luke Shaw will be hoping to improve on his performances last season and try to establish himself as the club’s regular left back, though after some assured displays in this role during his debut campaign, Blind is likely to continue here.
Having also brought in talented Italian full back back Matteo Darmian, United have a quality option that can use down either flank of defence. Antonio Valencia and the aforementioned Blind can provide plenty of cover.
In the final third, captain Wayne Rooney is primed to operate in a central role, with new signing Memphis Depay joining him on the left. While Juan Mata provides perfect cover on either flank, the much anticipated arrival of Pedro Rodriguez from Barcelona should complete a fantastic front three for United after Angel Di Maria’s departure.
Signs indicate that Van Gaal could also give youth more of a chance, with highly promising Andreas Pereira, Jesse Lingard and Adnan Januzaj all sparkling in pre-season, while Ashley Young provides experienced cover.
Should Mexico poacher Javier Hernandez leave, United may attempt to look for contingencies centrally with James Wilson out of his depth, and having recouped £44m from the sale of Di Maria to PSG, they have capital to reinvest.
If the Red Devils can bring a couple more players in before the window closes and then the team settles quickly, there is no reason why they cannot be challenging for honours at the end of the season.