Manchester United underwent what was a quite shocking fall from grace last season. They went from champions to also-rans in the space of a season.
I do not think many could believe it, especially their rival clubs. United last season were like a man who had won the lottery, but lost the ticket, completely and utterly hopeless.
The David Moyes reign will be one to forget for fans of the Red Devils. The Scot never looked, acted or seemed to be a real Manchester United boss.
He never had the touch of arrogance that made Sir Alex Ferguson such a great leader of the United empire.
After his successor at Everton Roberto Martinez did such sterling work last season, Toffees fans were actually glad he was at Old Trafford and not Goodison Park, such was the contrasting fortunes of the two clubs.
It was always going to be difficult following a legend like Sir Alex Ferguson and Moyes was just not up to the job. He is a decent guy and boss, but he really was not what the Red Devils needed last season.
The team had no recognisable style of play or philosophy at United. He was accused of having no plan b at Everton. At United it seemed he had lost plan a as well.
It may be harsh on the affable Scot, but he was just the wrong man in the wrong place at the wrong time and his reputation has taken a beating for his former-teams failings.
The appointment of Dutch boss Louis van Gaal was a statement by United that they meant business in the new campaign. Van Gaal is very much in a similar mould to Sir Alex in the fact that he is a strong character.
He takes a no-nonsense approach to managing his players. It is his way or the highway. The Dutchman can also be incredibly brash with the media, a trait that Sir Alex often displayed during his tenure as United boss.
Van Gaal will not let reputations or egos get in the way of his team winning games. He seems like a guy that could start an argument in an empty room, but he is a clever tactician and also a winner, which is exactly what United now needs.
Van Gaal has won silverware whatever club he has been at over the years. Winning league titles in Holland, Germany and Spain is not bad to have on your managerial CV. His predecessor Moyes was often criticised for his lack of silverware at Everton, in a career that spanned more than a decade on Merseyside.
Louis van Gaal is very much into his teams playing attractive, passing football. He is a tough taskmaster, but he is at times a brilliant tactician and that is a part of why he has claimed so much silverware in his career.
When something is not working for his team he identifies it and fixes the problem. Simple people may think, but sometimes managers do not have the tactician acumen to select the right solution to a particular problem, more often than not Van Gaal does.
He showed during the World Cup with Holland that he uses every advantage and tactic he can to help his team win games. Van Gaal guided the Oranje to the semi-finals, when expectations were fairly low in the low country.
It was expected that the Red Devils would make a host of summer signings, but only two players have arrived at Old Trafford so far this summer, midfielder Ander Herrera from Athletic Bilbao and full-back Luke Shaw from Southampton. Both players arrived for big fees.
However, with time still left in the summer transfer window the Red Devils are expected to make further signings and sell some of their under-achieving players from last season. It could be a busy few weeks for the relatively new United boss.
Finishing seventh last year in the Premier League means no European football this season, which could prove to be an advantage to the Red Devils. Liverpool showed last season what can be achieved without the rigours of European football.
Qualifying for the Champions League has to be the primary target for the new season. A title tilt can wait until Van Gaal has strengthened his squad further. The Red Devils are currently odds of 4/9 to finish in the top four and I certainly would not write them off for a Champions League place.
There seems to be a more positive mood around Manchester United this summer than last. Red Devils fans seem to be confident in the ability of their new boss to overcome last season’s blip and return success to the club.
Manchester United was unlikely to stay down long. How long it will take them to get back up to where they have been in recent year’s remains to be seen, but the signs are that they now have the right man for the job.
Will Manchester United finish in the top four in the new season?
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