Following two consecutive seasons of disappointment — by Manchester United standards, that is — the Red Devils have made a massive statement of intent in this summer’s transfer window.
Thus far, they have added Memphis Depay, Matteo Darmian, Morgan Schneiderlin, and World Cup winner Bastian Schweinsteiger to the squad with more signings expected to follow.
United have now, spent a staggering £289.3 million on transfers since Sir Alex Ferguson retired with Van Gaal alone, accountable for £221.6 million, with more additions in attack and defense expected to come soon. This begs the question – will all this be enough?
Who to look out for
We finally saw glimpses of the United we had grown used to over the years toward the middle of last season. Impressive wins against Tottenham, Liverpool and Manchester City were welcome signs of improvement. Crisp passing, energetic movement and a desire to create chances became characteristic of Manchester United’s game. They were growing.
One of United’s biggest problems last season was how predictable and flat they seemed without the presence of Michael Carrick on the field. The addition of Schweinsteiger seemingly changes this.
Known for his combativeness, vision, and delightful range of passing, he might possibly be to United what Fabregas was to Chelsea last season. He represents a caliber of midfielder that United have sorely missed since the retirement of Paul Scholes.
Angel di Maria’s role is set to be critical next season. The resilience he showed when he was stuck in a spell of poor form at Madrid will be called upon again, and if he manages to finally adapt to the English game, his quality is sure to be a massive boost to the team.
Having managed 10 league assists in what he will look back on as a disappointing season, the best is surely yet to come from the Argentine.
Between the sticks, David de Gea (assuming he stays) could be up for yet another strong season following last year’s heroics.
The Spaniard’s performances have seen him develop into one of the best goalkeepers in the world, and United would struggle to replace him if he does in fact transfer to Real Madrid.
The two-time consecutive Fans’ Player of the Year and Players’ Player of the Year is only getting better, and might soon join the list of legendary United goalkeepers such as the man he replaced, Edwin van der Sar.
Can United win the league?
In short, the answer is yes.
They have the players, they have an experienced coach, and they have the desire. Two consecutive years without a trophy is much longer in Manchester United years. The players can be proud of the progress they’ve made since Van Gaal first took over, but progress is not a measure of success at Old Trafford — winning is.
They have youth, with energetic youngsters such as Memphis Depay and Adnan Januzaj eager to make names for themselves.
They have experience, with Wayne Rooney and Carrick keen to get their side back on track.
They have class, with Schweinsteiger and Di Maria hopeful to let their feet do the talking as they try to settle in with the rest of the squad. On paper, they look a formidable outfit.
Competition for playing time will be fierce for this United side, and particularly with Schweinsteiger, Carrick, Schneiderlin, Daley Blind, Ander Herrera and Marouane Fellaini all vying for positions in central midfield, van Gaal will certainly be faced with some selection headaches.
There is also considerable depth on the wings, with Depay, Januzaj, di Maria, Mata, Young and Valencia all vying for a chance to shine. Options are undoubtedly aplenty.
With the right formation, a little luck with injuries, and some regular squad rotation, United’s stars should be able to end the 2015/16 season in celebration.