After one disastrous and one passable season following Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement, Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal is putting a squad together that seems more than capable of mounting a title challenge.
That’s something the Old Trafford faithful expect each season, with United being the most decorated club in England, and just scraping a place in the top four is certainly not something they want to become a regular thing – although under David Moyes that wasn’t an issue, with United missing out altogether.
Under LVG, they have improved and some quality players have arrived at Old Trafford, but there are still a couple of lingering issues the club need to sort before the season starts if they really want to be title contenders.
Resolve the goalkeeping situation
Is De Gea staying, is he going? Is Valdes leaving? Or are they both staying? If they’re both staying, why sign Sergio Romero? I’m sure I’m not the only one that’s slightly confused by it all.
One thing is for sure, at least one of Valdes and De Gea will be heading for the exit this summer, because I’m pretty sure Romero wouldn’t sign to act as third choice keeper, and after the public lambasting of Valdes by Van Gaal and the retaliation over Twitter from the Spaniard, you’d have to say, it looks like being Valdes.
Sergio Ramos is staying in Madrid (obviously) so a swap deal is off the table when it comes to De Gea – and when you consider the fact that Real could just wait a year and then land him on a free, it becomes all the more likely that United will hold onto the stopper for one final season.
Bring in a centre forward
The only forwards that are currently in the first team squad are Rooney, Wilson, and Hernandez. And, with uncertainty over the short-term future of Wilson, and the long-term future of Hernandez, now would be the right time to act and bring in a forward.
Depay has been mentioned as being utilised as a centre forward, but it’s certainly not his strongest position.
With Schweinsteiger joining the ranks, the idea that he possibly tempt his former team mate, Thomas Muller over to Manchester is not out of the question. It’d certainly be an outstanding coup for United, and with Angel Di Maria set to leave and free up another space in the squad, not to mention some cash, the price tag on the Bayern Munich player’s head is very doable.
Add experience to the back line
It’s something they’ve lacked since losing Vidic and Ferdinand, and it shows. Even the most ardent of Manchester United fans would probably admit that their defence has been the weak spot in the side for the last couple of seasons, and if they want to win the league, it has to be sorted out.
Now Ramos is off the table, Louis van Gaal seems to want to try and use what he has instead of dipping into the transfer market, with Daley Blind being tried out on the left hand side of the central defensive pairing during pre-season.
Michael Carrick has even been mentioned as a possible make-shift centre half once again, and with the wealth of riches the club now have in the middle of the park, that idea is not as unthinkable as it once was.
Get the players on the same page
They’ve made some excellent signings this summer, and with one or two more, they could be serious title contenders this year. This coming season has the potential to be one of the most interesting yet, with all of last season’s top four making some very strong signings on top of what they already have.
With a bit of belief, United can certainly mount a title challenge, to the envy of the majority out there, and the squad has a nice balance of players who know the Premier League and those who are new and have a point to prove – along with those who are out and out winners.
LVG just needs to make sure all the players are on the same page and can help each other en-route to mounting a serious title challenge.
Fight to get key players fit
Schweinsteiger is in a battle to be fit for the first game of the season, Antonio Valencia has an ankle injury, and Javier Hernandez has a broken collarbone. There’s not a lot you can do about injuries, but United will want to get these men fit for the start of the season, as they aim to sprint out of the blocks to make their statement of intent right from the off.
Last season they had serious issues keeping players fit, and Michael Carrick was missing at key times – and it caused the club to drop points.
Not only do they have to try and keep their players injury and suspension free, they also have to learn to cope when their star men are out for whatever reason, because it will happen over a 38 game season, not to mention during cup competitions.