Last season was nothing short than a disaster. Manchester United finished 7th in the Premier League, knocked out in the 3rd Round of the FA Cup and we crashed out of the Champions League in the Quarter Final, albeit against Bayern Munich. It was Manchester United’s worst season in over 20 years, and suddenly pundits and opposition fans started to predict the fall of an empire which had taken so long to build.
Yet, even some United Fans are starting to lower their expectations, some even settling for merely a Top 4 finish next season. By all means, it would be great to get back into the UEFA Champions League, but why should we lower our expectations? Things have changed.
Louis van Gaal
David Moyes is no longer in charge, this alone should lift expectations and the mood around Old Trafford. Van Gaal wins wherever he goes. He has won trophies in the Netherlands, Spain and Germany and is currently leading the Dutch through a successful World Cup campaign. This is not a manager who has got the job simply because he’s Fergie’s mate, or who’s best quality is loyalty.
Not only does van Gaal win trophies, he wins them fast. He won the league in his first season at both Barcelona and Bayern Munich. Van Gaal also took AZ Alkmaar to the Dutch League title, which is quite an achievement considering they are relatively small compared to previous Eredivisie champions Ajax, PSV and Feyenoord. Okay, we do not have the loyalty and commitment of David Moyes, but we have a winner, and a tactician who is pragmatic rather than reactive.
Ed Woodward has been heavily criticized by many United fans in the aftermath of David Moyes’ dismissal. However, Sir Alex Ferguson won the league with the same group of players as David Moyes, except Moyes had the additions of Fellaini and Mata neither of whom came cheaply. While the jury’s out of Fellaini, Juan Mata is world class. Yet even with him in the squad our performances didn’t particularly improve.
This summer is different. The World Cup is not even over and we have 2 quality signings in areas which have been crying out for attention over the past 2 years. Fellaini was best used as an attacking midfielder under Moyes at Everton, yet at United he decided to play him in the holding role. Juan Mata is our record signing in a position where we have Rooney, Kagawa, Januzaj. Already we have signed a young talented left beck with loads of potential in Luke Shaw. And Ander Herrera who can help sure up the midfield, a position we’ve truly needed to address since Roy Keane. Who remembers Djemba-Djemba and Kleberson…not to mention Tom Cleverley?
David Moyes cried out for more time to put his mark on the team, but unfortunately he was tactically and mentally not strong enough for the role. Ed Woodward on the other hand has shown significant improvements in the transfer market. Okay we’ve paid a lot of money for 2 young players, but these are long term investments and they are both in positions that were needed. And listen, anyone who makes a profit on Alexander Buttner must have potential!
There have already been huge improvements since David Moyes has left. We now have a world-class manager and we are signing players for positions we desperately needed cover. This squad is better than the squad who won the league in Ferguson’s last year as manager. Yes, the defence needs improving, but that will be addressed by United over the coming months. And who knows, maybe Smalling and Jones may finally fulfil their potential.
There is no reason to settle for a mere Top 4 finish. The new manager and our transfer market activity should be enough to persuade United fans that we will be challenging for every trophy next year, especially with no European football. As soon as we settle for mediocrity, that is when people can start predicting the end of Manchester United as the dominant force in English football.