Packed Old Trafford will give a warm welcome to Dutch manager Louis van Gaal as he takes his charges into a new Premier League season, hoping to fare much better than his predecessor David Moyes. Looking to spoil the party for the Red Devils will be much-changed Swansea side and the league’s youngest manager Gary Monk.
After the David Moyes experiment proved a major failure, Manchester United chiefs have made sure to avoid another similar mistake and there are not too many Red Devils fans who do not thing Louis van Gaal is the right man for the job. His wealth of experience in leading Europe’s top sides and proven track record speak for itself, but while he can be trusted to get the best out of the players at his disposal, the reality is the Dutchman still does not have a good enough squad to mount a serious title challenge. Luke Shaw and Ander Herrera are no doubt excellent additions to the squad, but Manchester United could pay the price for failing to properly replace Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand. Team’s unbeaten pre-season could prove misleading as the three-man defence of Evans, Jones and Smalling is nowhere near good enough, while the players will also need time to adapt to the new 3-5-2 formation. But, even with some key men missing, the Red Devils should use the new-found confidence and what is likely to be a huge support from the stands to their advantage, so chances are Louis van Gaal will be off to a winning start. Luke Shaw, Michael Carrick and Robin van Persie are definitely out, while the likes of Jonny Evans, Rafael, Antonio Valencia and Danny Welbeck are injury doubts.
It was the good finish to the season that saw Swansea achieve a mid table finish after the club had spent big chunk of the Premier League campaign in the danger zone. The gamble with Gary Monk paid off big time as the former defender proved a good manager material and he was obviously allowed to continue his job at the Liberty Stadium. While Wilfried Bony is still at the club, even if he could have left by the time the summer transfer window closes, the likes of Jonathan de Guzman, Chico Flores, Michu, Michel Vorm, Ben Davies and Pablo Hernandez are all gone, which is likely to prove a major problem. The club did sign several very good players in Lukasz Fabianski, Bafetimbi Gomis, Gylfi Sigurdsson and Jefferson Montero, but I just cannot see the Swans hitting the ground running early on, with the 3-0 loss to Villarreal in the final warm-up game proving the team are nowhere near the required form. The good news is that Wayne Routledge and Nathan Dyer have resumed full training, but Leon Britton, Marvin Emnes and Jay Fulton remain on the sidelines. It remains to be seen whether powerful strikers Bafetimbi Gomis and Wilfried Bony will continue their attacking partnership.
Manchester United can be trusted to produce a convincing performance in Louis van Gaal’s first game at Old Trafford, but chances are their weak back line will have their work cut out for them against Bony and Gomis. Therefore, the Red Devils are expected to win the match, but they are unlikely to keep a clean sheet in the process.
Verdict: Home win + both teams to score
Best Odds: 9/4
Bookmaker: William Hill