Louis van Gaal’s side started to show signs towards the end of last season that they were beginning to build a team capable of banishing the painful memories of David Moyes’ time in charge. But, are they ready to move back into the title picture?
The Red Devils have made five signings this summer, with Memphis Depay, Matteo Darmian, Morgan Schneiderlin, Bastian Schweinsteiger, and Sergio Romero all joining the Dutchman’s revolution at Old Trafford. Meanwhile, Robin van Persie, Radamel Falcao, and Nani were the highest profile names to leave the club.
However, it seems the drama is still to come.
Angel Di Maria is set to complete his move to Paris Saint-Germain (via BBC Sport), and he could be followed heading for the exit by goalkeeper trio David de Gea, Victor Valdes, and Anders Lindegaard (via Metro).
Barcelona winger Pedro is expected to arrive (via Metro), but the club still need a striker with Wayne Rooney and Javier Hernandez as the only senior options up top. Keeping hold of de Gea should also be a priority.
Memphis Depay enjoyed a fantastic final year in the Netherlands before his move to Old Trafford. The winger finished with 22 goals, and helped PSV clinch the title. The biggest question mark regarding the 21-year-old is whether he is able to make the step up from the Eredivisie to the Premier League.
As if there wasn’t enough pressure on him already, it seems likely that he will be playing up front, such is the shortage of options at Louis van Gaal’s disposal currently.
Big things were expected when Luke Shaw completed his move to United. He had enjoyed a great breakout year with Southampton, and celebrated it by being a part of Roy Hodgson’s World Cup squad.
Unfortunately however, his first season with the Red Devils was a real struggle, and left many questioning whether he was worth the fee. He has looked sharp in pre-season however, and seems ready to prove his doubters wrong.
Louis van Gaal was given some leeway during his first season as he was picking up the pieces of the short-lived David Moyes era. Now however, having spent over £80m (via Daily Star) it’s time to deliver.
The Dutchman has already stated that this shall be his penultimate season at the helm (via BBC Sport), so he will be desperate to ensure that they end their wait for the title as soon as possible.
Realistic Target: 2nd
Though United managed to finish fourth, there were plenty of times last season where they looked set to miss out on the top four once again. This year, they will be expecting to qualify for the Champions League quite comfortably.
Depending on how they begin the campaign, they may be hoping to mount some kind of title challenge.
Predicted Finish: 2nd
Despite making several high-profile signings, it may be a little too much to ask to expect them to gel in time to seriously compete for the title. Their lack of depth up front is also likely to count against them.
However, they should build upon van Gaal’s first year, and should put themselves in a good position to challenge in the Dutchman’s final year in the dugout.