Building A Winning Squad: Manchester United’s Version

This is not Louis Van Gaal’s first season at Manchester United, he was in the same position just a year ago. Back then, he took a weak side that had failed to make it to Europe’s most prestigious tournament, the Champions League. He had just finished a World Cup journey with the Dutch national team, leaving himself with little time to plan and build his United squad ahead of his first season. Despite achieving little success, the Dutch manager managed to guide the club back to Champions League football. His moment of truth starts now.

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As he arrived, several stars had departed: Patrice Evra, Rio Ferdinand, Nemanja Vidic and Giggs, players who all left their mark on the club’s history. Others were clearly not reaching their expected potential as the club struggled to offload a handful of them: Shinji Kagawa, Anderson, Danny Welbeck, Javier Hernandez and Tom Cleverley. All had or used to have talent and potential, but needed to move on. He spent a season experimenting with players ranging from the signings of Angel Di Maria and Radamel Falcao to trying Wayne Rooney in different positions the field. All in all, he formed the base of his plan for the new season.

Despite getting to know his players lest term, he already had to deal with the departure of some. Forwards Falcao and Robin Van Persie left the club, Mexican Javier Hernandez returned following a loan spell at Real Madrid, initially, he wasn’t part of the club’s plans but with Only Wayne Rooney up front, the manager might opt to give him a chance while he seeks to lure Edinson Cavani from Paris Saint-Germain. Van Gaal insists that he is not concerned about United’s striker situation but nonetheless if he is to sign a player, he has to make it as early as possible so that the player adapts to the team’s game. Cavani might arrive at the expense of Angel Di Maria who struggled to acclimatize to English football.

The money appeared to be in place for the manager to sign whoever he needed to lead the club back to its glory. The list of summer targets is quite different from that of the previous season. Memphis Depay, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Morgan Schneiderlin and Matteo Darmian. During the club’s first two friendly outings in the US,  Memphis showed great potential and involvement in play. Bastian on the other hand is still finding his feet and trying to adapt to his new team-mates. The club’s signings have all done well with their former teams but the challenge is different now. With the exception of the German international, the new additions have never played football at its highest levels and now there is no room for error.

As problems are being solved, others are being created. David De Gea’s refusal to sign a contract could push the club to sell him to Real Madrid, Victor Valdes also has had his problems with the Dutch manager so the club are looking to pounce on either Tottenham’s Hugo Lloris or Argentina’s Sergio Romero. The club could also be prepared to lose Angel Di Maria but with Schweinsteiger, Ander Herrera, Juan Mata and others the club has a strong midfield that can dictate play and create several scoring chances each game.

The club learned from last season’s mistakes, for example the pre-season tour in America this time is concentrated in two bases in the country’s west were the weather is considerably cooler and allows the players to better prepare themselves instead of travelling every two or three days to a different state. The results of the friendlies don’t matter as much as increasing their fitness levels and understanding does. So far, the players are doing well with two victories from two matches played, the Red Devils can be proud of what they’ve done so far especially with Schneiderlin and Depay scoring goals that can boost their confidence. However, the Premier League starts in less than a month and by then Van Gall is expected to have the squad fully prepared and ready to take on the challenge.

When the Dutch manager joined the Red Devils, he said that his aim is to make the club the best in the world. While the club is still far from that goal, they seem to be on the right track. The new signings make more sense than the hasty ones of last term yet they have to adapt to English football. The season will be long and Manchester United can always use an extra push from their fans and supporter. In short, you can be part of it too and join your club at Old Trafford.

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