Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : Aug 4th 2015 Contents A58
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Tuesday, August 4, 2015
MANCHESTER---For a club of Manchester United s
standing, two years out of the Premier League title
conversation is two too many.
There are reasons to be optimistic that the run
won t stretch to a third season, even though the 20-
time English champions head into the new campaign
with as many questions as answers.
Louis van Gaal is starting his second season in
charge and feels his philosophy---his buzzword since
arriving at Old Trafford---is beginning to permeate
the club. The Dutchman also believes his squad is
better balanced after the offseason signings of mid-
fielders Bastian Schweinsteiger and Morgan Schnei-
derlin, Italy right back Matteo Darmian, Netherlands
forward Memphis Depay and Argentina goalkeeper
Throw in its return to the Champions League and
another strong set of preseason results on the tour
of the United States, including a victory against
European champion Barcelona, and there s every
reason to feel United should improve on seventh-
and fourth-place finishes in the league in the last
Not everything is rosy at Old Trafford, though.
United looks short up front following the departure
of Robin van Persie and Radamel Falcao this summer.
Wayne Rooney starts the season as the club s only
senior striker, although Javier Hernandez---currently
injured---is back from his loan spell at Real Madrid.
There remain question marks over the future of
goalkeeper David de Gea, arguably United s best
player last season and the main reason the team is
back in the Champions League. De Gea is heavily
linked with a move to Madrid and has barely featured
And Van Gaal has acknowledged that his squad
still the lacks the kind of star quality in attack that
is sprinkled throughout the forward lines of European
heavyweights Barcelona, Madrid and Bayern Munich.
Argentina midfielder Angel Di Maria was supposed
to have added that but he is on the verge of joining
Paris Saint-Germain, to end an underwhelming year
at United following his club-record move for £59.7
million (then US$99 million).
United s first task this season will be to win its
Champions League playoff at the end of August to
advance to the group stage. Another of Van Gaal s
priorities will be to start the league season better
than last year, with United s title chances virtually
over after picking up just 13 points in the opening
If that happens, United could yet be back as a
genuine contender in the title race, as it should be
after spending about £230 million (US$360 million)
on new signings in the last 12 months. As it stands,
there is a general feeling that Chelsea will again be
too strong this season, perhaps even Manchester
City and Arsenal.
Here are some things to know for the upcoming
season. Rooney is back as United s No 1 striker, and
there is pressure on him to deliver now that Van
Persie and Falcao are gone.
"I hope to score 20 or more goals again," the Eng-
land captain said. "If I am playing as a striker, then
I will be disappointed if I cannot do that again."
If he achieves his target, he will become United s
record scorer. Rooney s tally for the club is currently
230 goals, 19 behind Bobby Charlton s record.
Comparisons are already being made between
Depay and Cristiano Ronaldo. That may be premature,
but there is hope at Old Trafford that the 21-year-
old Dutchman can provide an attacking spark to take
United to the next level.
The arrival of Schweinsteiger and Schneiderlin, as
well as the emergence of Ander Herrera toward the
works the ball
Silva, right, in
the first half of
end of last season, indicates a refreshing of United s
central midfield. But Van Gaal will surely still find
a place for his on-field brains, Michael Carrick.
Carrick s return from a long injury coincided with
a ten-match unbeaten run for United from November
to January that left the team in touching distance of
the leaders. (AP)
Optimism at Man U
tempered by absent
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