Louis van Gaal gave an unforgettable speech last Tuesday. After several hours of slightly wearisome MUTV coverage, the big Dutchman cajoled Manchester United’s ‘Player of the Year Awards Ceremony’ into buoyant, front-page-worthy life with a Churchill-esque, slightly inebriated forore.
Seeing such passion, energy and gratitude towards supporters instilled a level of intense optimism for the future. With European football, new signings, and, most importantly, a settled group of players on the horizon, everybody should consider this season – which was always going to be a building block for better things next year – as a qualified success.
However, Louis van Gaal and his team must continue to make the right steps in order to mount a much-needed title challenge in the 2015/16 season. The appetite and resilience that emblematised his speech suggests that the manager’s utterance – ‘we are very close!’ – was more than just cocky drunken nonsense. He really meant it. This team has improved ominously in the last twelve months. For that, we must applaud the efforts of Louis van Gaal (and the saxophone player, of course).
Nevertheless, despite universal yearning for August to arrive as soon as possible, one match remains of the 2014/15 season.
Man United head into their final game with 4th position already cemented; a lackadaisical attitude, featuring some fringe players, might be on the cards. Their opponents, on the other hand, will be furiously battling on this final day.
The KC stadium is set to be a cauldron of anxious liveliness as Hull City faces the daunting task of having to win their final game of the season in order to face any chance of maintaining their Premier League status.
In what will be an excruciatingly tense afternoon for the home fans, Hull will need to ignore the fact that they haven’t defeated Man United since 1974, and that Steve Bruce hasn’t managed to beat his upcoming opponent in seventeen years of football management.
The home side will be further impeded by the unavailability of Diame, Davies, Ramirez and Livermore on Sunday, but could be an unchanged side to the one that lost to Tottenham last time out.
Louis van Gaal may be without his newly elected player of the season David de Gea, who suffered a hamstring strain against Arsenal, meaning that Victor Valdes could make his first start for the club. Wayne Rooney returns whilst Jonny Evans and Luke Shaw are major doubts.
There’s a chance that the desperate urgency of Hull will prevail over the ‘job done’ grandeur of Man United this Sunday. However, Louis van Gaal’s men will be determined to end a highly entertaining, highly promising nine months in a style that matches the grandiose nature of Louis van Gaal’s speech last Tuesday.
Prediction: Hull City 1-1 Manchester United