It has to be considered that it will be a matter of when, rather than if, when it comes to Manchester United winning honours again.
After a torrid first season post-Ferguson, they have stuttered to a slow start again under their new manager Louis Van Gaal, sitting in mid-table after the first 9 games of the season, and looking like they are not going to be mixing it up with the title-chasing just yet.
There is no shying away from the fact that they have failed to strengthen their weak defence since Fergie stepped down, focusing rather on bolstering the attack with some very big marquee signings this summer. When the season kicked off, and they started to show similar traits to the ones that saw them have such a terrible campaign last time around, their new signings looked like they would need a bedding down period. The manager’s tactics didn’t look to be having the positive impact on their results that he had hoped for and the team was still breaking all sorts of unwanted records.
This season should probably be written-off by United fans as another transitional period, but one that can be used as the building blocks for the future under their Dutch mastermind Van Gaal. There are a lot of issues to be ironed out at the club, both on and off the pitch, before they start looking like a threat again in the Premier League.
There are already a few signs of improvement becoming visible – the players look more united, more optimistic and confident in their approach – and they appear a much more gelled unit than last season. The manager commands a respect that David Moyes simply failed to earn during his short spell at Old Trafford, and rather than the players keeping their heads down and blaming their gaffer for their struggles, it seems like they are all pulling together and working as a unit to try and improve.
Another visible positive is a much stronger set of players in the attacking department. Angel Di Maria looks like a world class player for them and is linking up well with the likes of Juan Mata, Robin Van Persie and co. Ander Herrera and Daley Blind look decent acquisitions as well, and together, all those players are making Man United into a Premiership dream team – at least on paper.
This season, the manager will need to ensure that he brings in one or two world class centre backs to strengthen his defence, keep hold of his best players, mould the team around his tactics over the remainder of the season and give his players a new found winning mentality – a self belief that they can be the Man United of old, fearless and unbeatable.
This club, under Fergie, was a club that whether you loved or hated them, you had to admit that they were impressive to watch. Even during bad spells it was impossible to write them off from any cup or title chase they were in.
Under Van Gaal they can certainly get back to those days once more, there is no doubt about it – once he has implemented all that needs to be done, once the board have backed him and continued to trust in his ability and ideas – then they will pull together in the right direction.
When can Manchester United win the Premiership title again? Next season will be the one to place your bet on, and by the following season, they will have reclaimed the respect and fear back that they once had not so long ago.