Football Friends Online – When 90 Mins Is Not EnoughManchester United: Back Where They Belong? - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough Manchester United: Back Where They Belong? - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough

Manchester United: Back Where They Belong?

Manchester United went through an atrocious season last time around, as the club had to cope with the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson as their manager after 26 years. The club stuttered and stumbled to a 7th place finish, their worst finish in a long time. Fans were angry, obviously with the shambolic handling of the club, as David Moyes was stuck between imposing his own philosophy on a club that had been meticulously managed for a quarter of a century, or letting the previous system function. However, United are not going down so easily, and they will fight to claim the throne that has been their own for years, under Louis van Gaal.

Manager: Louis van Gaal

Stadium: Old Trafford

Fans: The Red Devils

In: Luke Shaw (Southampton), Ander Herrera (Atletic Bilbao)

Out: Bebe (Benfica), Alexander Buttner (Dynamo Moscow), Patrice Evra (Juventus), Rio Ferdinand (QPR), Nemanja Vidic (Inter), Federico Macheda (Cardiff), Ryan Giggs (retired)

What happened last season?

Last season was an aberration. The club was coping with the loss of their premier manager and could not adjust to the half-hearted changes to which the club was subjected. David Moyes was appointed as the new manager, with the support of Sir Alex Ferguson. His rule was doomed from the very start as he failed to get his transfer targets, as most players were too skeptical of his management.

The backroom staff was changed, and as the season progressed, Moyes’ methods came under fire, as he lost all support in the dressing room. Senior players such as Ryan Giggs, Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic seemed out of place with the tactics incorporated by Moyes, as their tiring legs could not put in the necessary work-rate to maintain a high defensive line. Their tactics stank of defence, as Moyes seemed to forget that he was at Manchester United, where the mentality was to win against fellow big clubs, not draw or lose. Clubs were more at ease while visiting Old Trafford and went for wins, as the aura around United started to diminish.

The team unraveled and fell apart by February, which ultimately led to Moyes’ sacking, as they were out of the Champions League, they were down and out of the Premier League race, and were in danger of losing out on European competition. Old stars flopped, and new faces such as Adnan Januzaj emerged and the Red Devils managed to capture Juan Mata in the winter transfer window, after he fell out of favour at Chelsea under Jose Mourinho, but it was too little, too late, as he was not used in the position in which he would have excelled.

Finally a loss at Everton, made the United hierarchy to take the ultimate decision to sack their chosen one giving Ryan Giggs a hand in management with an interim job for the final three or four games. He, too, was unable to save United, as they missed out on European competition.

What will happen this season?

Louis van Gaal’s appointment has brouight back hope in the minds of United fans. The former Dutch manager is more than capable of taking United back to where they belong, in quick time. He has won the German, Dutch and the Spanish leagues,  and has come to the club on the back of a huge reputation, having just guided Netherlands to third place in the World Cup, unexpectedly. van Gaal has made changes to the club’s philosophy, changing tactics and saying that he has inherited a “broken team”. Luke Shaw and Ander Herrera were purchased before he could arrive, with his guidance. The team formation has changed to 3-5-2, which means that there will be an extra man in the centre of midfield and defence, while the wing-backs will have to rove between attack and defence tirelessly.

The club has already impressed in preseason, as all the players were given a chance to prove themselves, after which Louis van Gaal reportedly told a few of the players to find themselves new clubs, as they did not fit into his plans. Most of the players looked comfortable with his strategy, and players like Juan Mata and Wayne Rooney have reveled in the roles that they have been offered. Wayne Rooney has also been offered captaincy, which will keep him motivated and will prove his leadership credentials.  The team looked good as they won the Guinness International Champions Cup in preseason.

Who will be the star player?

Juan Mata, undoubtedly. The Spaniard will supply both Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie with crosses, passes and through balls as the team will benefit hugely with him playing the ‘number 10’ role that he has wanted. He has orchestrated the play at Chelsea in the very same ‘number 10’ role for which he won a place in the Premier League PFA Team of the Year in 2012-13 and the Chelsea Player of the Year for 2 years in a row, in 2011-12 and in 2012-13 and now, he will be able to play the same role at United, which obviously spells trouble for opposition defences.

Watch out for: Robin van Persie, Wayne Rooney, Ander Herrera, Tom Cleverley, Jonny Evans

Robin van Persie: He has worked with Louis van Gaal closely while van Gaal was the Netherlands manager, and knows his role in the team. He has scored goals at will, and can be expected to score spectacular goals over this season as well, if he remains injury-free.

Wayne Rooney: Has had a turnaround of fortunes from two months ago, where his place at the forefront in the England team was in danger and his place in the United team was not guaranteed. Now, he is the captain of the United team, and he can be expected to play as one of the two strikers in Louis van Gaal’s 3-5-2 formation, where he can create havoc among opposition defences.

Ander Herrera: He seemed an overpriced acquisition, but his performances in the centre of midfield have seemed fanatstic during preseason. Expect him to carry this form into the season, as he could be depended upon to stop opposition attacks and keep the ball moving forward with United.

Tom Cleverley: The much-maligned United player who was made the butt of all jokes and was blamed for United’s miserable campaign last season, has been given a lifeline by Louis van Gaal. His focus has been on winning his place back in the team, and his workrate and ability to pass accurately will help him mount a fightback against the odds that have dragged him down.

Jonny Evans: He has the skills to be the focal point of United’s defence, but the presence of Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic in previous seasons and his injury problems have meant that he has not been able to establish himself in the team. If he can stay injury-free, the new 3-5-2 formation will offer him a bigger role than he has previously been given in the United first-team.

Full squad:

Goalkeepers: David de Gea, Anders Lindegaard, Ben Amos, Sam Johnstone

Defenders: Jonny Evans, Rafael, Chris Smalling, Phil Jones, Michael Keane, Luke Shaw, Marnick Vermijl, Guillermo Varela

Midfielders: Darren Fletcher, Michael Carrick, Nani, Anderson, Antonio Valencia, Juan Mata, Tom Cleverley, Ashley Young, Marouane Fellaini, Shinji Kagawa, Ander Herrera, Wilfried Zaha, Jesse Lingard, Nick Powell, Adnan Januzaj

Forwards: Robin van Persie, Wayne Rooney, Danny Welbeck, Javier Hernandez, Will Keane, Tom Lawrence, James Wilson


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