Current Premier League champions Manchester United are more than capable of retaining the Premier League title, despite witnessing wholesale changes this summer.
The Red Devils' title credentials have been questioned following the loss of legendary manager Sir Alex Ferguson, while replacing him with an unknown quantity at this level in David Moyes.
Along with suffering a disappointing summer transfer window, fans and pundits alike have doused cold water on United's ability to contest for the Premier League.
From first glance that may seem a fair assumption. Sir Alex himself was worth so much to United purely down to his sheer managerial genius, while the midfield has been a hot topic amongst the media since the days of Roy Keane retiring.
Marouane Fellaini has been the sole first team acquisition for United this summer and while joining for a hefty £27.5 million price tag, that is slightly irrelevant.
United will of course rue missing the chance to activate the big Belgian's release clause of £23 million, but what is a very accomplished central midfielder worth to Manchester United?
The midfield has been a gaping weakness in an otherwise healthy United squad, with a lack of quality and quantity.
Ever-present Michael Carrick has been the one quality and reliable midfielder for the champions to call on in the last few years, but Fellaini adds a physically imposing nature to an otherwise passive midfield.
This was exemplified following his short debut cameo from the bench against Crystal Palace, along with an impressive first start in Manchester United's 4-2 victory over German outfit Bayer Leverkusen - a game which many considered United's most impressive performance to date. That in itself is very telling of Fellaini's influence.
On top of that game was the continued impressive form of Wayne Rooney. Rooney capped off a promising return against Chelsea with a fine free-kick against Crystal Palace and a man-of-the-match performance against Bayer Leverkusen, following a brace and well-measured assist.
It wasn't just the stats that impressive with Rooney looking fitter, sharper and more explosive by displaying a great first touch and turn of pace on a number of occasions.
Midfielder Carrick was undoubtedly impressed by Rooney's performance declaring it 'untouchable'.
There are positives ahead of United's blockbuster derby against rivals Manchester City. The game against Bayer Leverkusen was one of United's most accomplished performance's in years.
The striking duo of Rooney and Van Persie is simply world class, the addition of Fellaini adds another dimension to midfield, while United look a lot more assured and cohesive defensively.
Any side would feel the effects of losing a manager of Ferguson's calibre in one way or another. But in many ways United look improved this season.
This is not a United side that should be taken lightly and they are well capable of retaining the Premier League title this year.
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