The expectation is that more players will be signed but as you can see, the first eleven the new manager is able to put out is impressively strong.
The big ommission in my proposed team is Rooney. I’m struggling to see where he fits in; a wonderful footballer on his day he suffers from having superior players as direct rivals for his preferred positions. In my view both RvP and Mata are a better fit for the enterprising, possession based approach I expect the new manager to adopt. One option has been to shift him wide but in my view he lacks the change of pace that is essential to create the space in wide positions. Januzaj and Welbeck are more suited to wide roles in a 4-3-3 with the newly contracted Valencia a more traditional alternative wide man. To be honest, even if van Gaal stuck with his summer approach of a counter attacking 5-3-2 system it is very hard to see which role Rooney would fit in. It certainly will be fascinating to see how the club’s top earner is deployed.
Defensively an additional centre back is expected to be recruited. In the unlikely event we really were able to attract Hummels then the rest would be left to compete to be his partner. More likely a newcomer such as Vermaelen or De Vrijj would be expected to battle to dislodge the players already at the club. Evans and Jones potentially can be an excellent partnership but though their ability is not in doubt their capacity to stay fit is. Carrick might be expected to drop in the back line more regularly to allow Shaw and Rafael licence to provide attacking width.
Midfield has been the area of most speculation and potential for most change. Arturo Vidal has been the talk of twitter but his purchase remains a hope rather than an expectation for me. van Gaal’s admiration for Kevin Strootman is well known and it might be that funds will be set aside for a January bid for the impressive Dutchman. Even so, it would be a surprise if a further central midfielder were not brought to the club over the summer given the paucity of alternatives should injury befall Carrick or Herrera.
What would your team look like to start the season? Leave a comment.