Manchester United have a history of winning that dates back to the 1950s. Crucial to this exemplary record has been their managers' ability to pick a team that, though rotated throughout the season, still forms a strong core that can pick up a good number of points.
Here, I am going to predict the core starting lineup, as well as their goal and assist stats. The players represented here will be appointed according to the United squad as it stands on July 22.
David de Gea
Clean sheets by 2014: 18
Last Season, de Gea evolved from the bumbling disappointment that most United fans saw as their biggest liability, into a sturdy rock that has become one of United's most prized assets.
The fact that he is so young only makes him seem like a better player. He was one of United's best players last season, and don't expect that to change any time soon. Javier Hernandez has just declared him as the best keeper in the world, and while that may be premature and undoubtedly influenced by bias, it might not be too long until he displaces the current number one choice, Iker Casillas, in the Spain national team.
While Buttner didn't have the most stellar first season at Old Trafford, he did make quite an impression on his debut. He undoubtably has the potential to become Evra's successor, and I expect that to start happening next season. Assuming Leighton Baines doesn't come in, expect Buttner to be running down the left flank next season.
Evans was arguably United's most improved player last season (with fierce competition for this prize coming from De Gea). He was rock solid at the back and brought a calm disposition that is reminiscent of a young Nemanja Vidic. With Vidic approaching 32, don't be surprised if Evans gets the nod to make the centre-back position his own.
Expect Smalling to make a big splash at both ends of the pitch. His height and strength make him the perfect target at corners, and his defensive ability should see him partner Evans In defence.
Although he has historically been prone to errors of judgement every once in a while, his timing of the tackle and reading of the game make him an invaluable asset at the back.
Rafael da Silva
No controversy here, as Rafael made the right-back position his own last season. Expect him to keep turning in consistent performances as he did last season. I also see him getting really involved at the attacking end, with his immense speed and dribbling skills being a definite plus.
While I have previously written an article listing the reasons why I believe Nani should go, I still feel that among current options, United don't have anyone better to throw on the left wing.
While he is very erratic, hopefully he will find a bout of consistency this season and become a player United can really count on. This inclusion is more based on Moyes' recent statements than it is deserved by Nani. I wouldn't get my hopes up too much.
No arguments can be made here, as Carrick was probably United's best player last season. Expect him to continue on as the fulcrum of the team, spraying accurate passes to all ends of the field.
I expect Kagawa to be one of United's standout performers this season. He no doubt has the potential to be great, as was represented by his hat-trick against Norwich last seaosn. He has a keen eye for a killer pass and the instincts of a poacher. Don't be surprised if his total goal and assist tally for next season breaks 25.
Only time will tell on this one, but I see Zaha as being more competent than United's other options on the right-wing. Antonio Valencia's dismal 2012-13 campaign should see him rightly on the bench, and Zaha has the skill to become a world class player, but maybe just not this soon.
I have a feeling that if he stays, next year we will be living in Wayne's world. He has made clear his desire to play as a striker, and if fit, he will terrorise the opposition. Rooney is a world class player and I believe he will hit the heights he reached in the 2009-10 campaign. There is no doubt he will not be an understudy, and the only doubt is whether or not he will stay.
Robin van Persie
I see van Persie slowing down a bit next season. I still believe he will be phenomenal, but his well documented injury problems may very well resurface. Also, a reinvigorated Rooney will be taking a lions share of the goals this season, so van Persie may see his influence reduced a little. But I still expect him to make a big difference in the title race.
Anyone who saw him against the Thailand All Star XI knows he has the potential to be a superstar. Great control and slick passing just begin to scratch the surface of this boy's potential. Expect him to play a big role from the bench.
The ever-present poacher will find starting places hard to come by again this season. That said, he will still make a significant difference. The super-sub may be as crucial as ever.
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