Next weekend, Manchester United will play Swansea in their first match of the new campaign hoping to put the ghosts of last season to bed. With a very convincing USA tour, expectations are high, whether from the fans, the players, or even the club itself.
They need to pick up all three points and convince their new manager that they’ve got what it takes to challenge for a top place finish and bring glory back to Old Trafford. The first match will be very important because it will eventually set the mood and tone for their entire season.
Until the whistle is blown on match day, here are SIX things to expect from Manchester United this season.
Forget all the pre-season victories as the Manchester United squad will now need to test their new 3-5-2 formation where it really matters, in the English Premier League. We have all seen it work wonders for the Dutch national squad and with Louis van Gaal facing Swansea in their first game, there is no room for error.
Jonny Evans, Phil Jones, Chris Smalling will need to be at their best to ensure no previous season mentality comes back to haunt them. The fans are expecting a victory, so three points is the only option Van Gaal has.
Seventh place in the previous campaign means completely nothing now. With a clean slate, Manchester United are expected to compete for the top four spots or even more, top two. Throughout the pre-season, we have seen a completely different team from the one fielded by David Moyes, from their movement all the way to their mentality.
Louis van Gaal was given a huge transfer budget solely for the reason of returning to European football the next season. Anything less than a top four finish will pretty much put the Dutch boss under huge amount of pressure. Based on what we know of him, the Red Devils may have finally found someone who can replace the legendary Sir Alex Ferguson.
Last season Manchester United lost seven matches at home, something that hasn’t happened since the 1973/1974 campaign. However, with a complete chance in management with the introduction of Louis van Gaal, things are expected to be looking up. Based on their pre-season form, they have produced some outstanding plays, hinted that they will be back to their best.
Therefore, for United to compete for a Champions League spot as well as the entire Premier League, they should be expected not to drop any points at Old Trafford. When it comes to away matches, Van Gaal will surely urge his players to go for the victory no matter what. Whatever happens, they will need to avoid what smaller teams did do them the previous season.
There were times last season when nobody was afraid of Manchester United anymore. Either home or away, teams took the game to them, focusing on trying to break down their weak midfield and exploiting their unconvincing defence.
However, this time around, Louis van Gaal looks to have reinforced all aspects of the squad and if other Premier League teams saw what they are capable of during their USA tour, they should begin fearing them once more. Their first match against Swansea will be a very important one as it will either make them or break them.
Whether Louis van Gaal is capable of adding another centre-back or defensive midfield to his ranks or not, he will make sure the squad is tight and composed at the back while also capable of inflicting serious damage on the break. With reference to the Dutch squad, Arjen Robben seemed to be given to freedom to roam around and break on the counter, something many expect the likes of United’s more attacking players to do as well.
The strike pairing of Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney has yet to be tested during pre-season, but even without the Dutch forward, the Red Devils were causing mayhem wherever they went. A key to Van Gaal’s formation will be the stability of his wing backs in defence and their pace and vision on the counters.
Finally, something or rather someone, who can always be expected to keep a huge lookout from the stand, is former Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson. It was believed David Moyes was under pressure from his close scrutiny and it looks to be no difference when Louis van Gaal leads his squad on the pitch in two weeks time.
The only difference is that the Dutchman has a die-hard attitude, with one thing in mind, victory game in game out. Whether he is pressured from all angles of Old Trafford, he will be able to keep a cool head and make the appropriate changes in order to guide his team to victory. All we can do now is wait and see.