So since my last little write-up on United, alot has happened. The transfer window shut, the games started and Louis Van Gaal had begun his task to return Manchester United to the top of English and European Football. So how has it gone so far….in my opinion….a very mixed bag!
Between the 14 August (my last Man Utd blog) we were pretty active in the transfer market, all the way up until deadline day itself and I have to say, the signings we made filled me with excitement.
We had a little clearout and to be honest I was happy with the players that were loaned out or sold. Apart from Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez, I’ve always had a soft spot for him and think he is a good attacker who goals per miute ratio is very good, I don’t think he got a very good chance to prove himself at United which is a shame but a player like him should be playing first team football and although sad to see him go, the loan move to Madrid will do him the world of good, aslong as Ancholotti uses him as support for Karim Benzema.
Shinji Kagawa returned to Borussia Dortmund and although he is a quality player, I don’t think he showed enough of his talent to warrant holding down a spot in the United team.
Danny Welbeck (move to Arsenal) and Tom Cleverley (loan move to Aston Villa) were both good moves from my points of view, as was Nani‘s departure back to Sporting Lisbon. Danny Welbeck has not proved himself to be a consistent threat, and although he has pace and a good touch, he lack of authority in the box I thought made him a little redundant. Tom Cleverley on the other hand – in my eyes has never had a stand-out game in a red shirt and is just not at the level needed to be a United Midfielder.
On the incomings though I think we had a vrey good window. Yes we didn’t get Arturo Vidal or Mat Hummels which were both big signings I was personally hoping we would complete (Mat Hummels being a huge one, as a centre back of his quality was exactly and still is what we are looking for) but we did manage to secure a few brilliant signings which I think made a massive statement that firstly Man United could complete in the transfer market still and secondly that we were still a force to be reckoned with during this period of transition.
The big boys that we landed were – Angel Di Maria (For a British transfer record fee of £60m) and Radamel Falcao (Deadline day, season-long loan with option to buy). These two players are without doubt among the best in the world and on their day can individually turn a game on it’s head with moments of brilliance.
Angel Di Maria gives us the speed, creativity and wide play that we needed in the middle along with a fierce attacking prowess, not to mention an unbelievable set piece.
Radamel Falcao on the other hand is a out and out striker, a goal scorer and poacher. With Robin Van Persie being as injury prone as he is, and the moves of Welbeck and Hernandez mean’t we needed another striker to support RVP and the young James Wilson, and to get Falcao to fill this spot is a really exciting prospect!
Two more signings were made alongside these 2 galacticos, in the form of Ajax player Daley Blind (£16m) and Marcos Rojo (£16m) from Sporting Lison. I think both of these players will play a big part at United this season, Blind having a stand-out world cup for the Netherlands and being that holding defensive midfielder that United lacked last season gives us a solid workhorse and play maker in the middle. Marcos Rojo again having a really good campaign at the World Cup for Argentina gives us more attacking options down the left side and being a left-back/center back gives us options as to where he can play in a couple of formations alongside Luke Shaw.
A possible Full Strength no injury United Starting 11 could potenially look very good – especially up top!
However game-wise we have had a pretty bad start to the campaign!
We were knocked out of the Cup 4-0 by MK Dons, a terrible performance all round and Dons reserved to turn us over.
League-wise it wasn’t much better, playing LVG’s trademark 3-5-2, we lost to Swansea, Leicester City and drew with Burnley and Sunderland. Although we have had alot of injury’s this doesn’t excuse the fact that we looked pretty bad at the back, the players simply didn’t look like they new how to play with 3 at the back, and this proved costly for us.
Against Leicester City we were cruising at 3-1, yet the defence (the 4th different Center back combo of the season only 5 games in) collapsed and as soon as they gained momentum they didn’t stop and again deserved the result!
We beat QPR convincingly and we ground it out against West Ham for another 3 points, both we played with 4 at the back and a diamond. Although we still look fragile (Luke Shaw not available, alongside Evans Smalling and Rafael) we showed just what good players we had signed, Angel Di Maria with the freedom to run the wing and cut inside, all the play running through Herrera and Blind tidying up in front of the back four really gave United fans optimism for the season.
United have had a injury crisis early season and I really believe this has had an effect on a few of our games and poor results, but the glimpses of individual brilliance by Angel Di Maria along with the team gelling together and starting to play as team, especially in defence show real potential for United to have a good season.
I think the league is a step too far this year as the noisy neighbours with a settled squad and a strong defence challenge Chelsea who look very dangerous with Diego Costa up front, I really think we can make the top 3/4 and get into Europe next year.
October will be a much tougher month of fixtures for United, we have Chelsea, Everton and Manchester City coming up and as the squad start to play and train together and gel as a team I think we may start to cause some upsets and show everyone that United is back where we belong with a squad that can not only beat the best but be the best!