Manchester United heralded the start of the Louis van Gaal era by spending an enormous £150 million during the summer transfer window in a bid to reinforce their top four credentials.
It is expected they will continue to spend heavily over the coming windows given the vast funds at their disposal. But how will Van Gaal's side be lining up come next season?
Will Godley has his say...
Louis van Gaal prefers the 3-5-2 formation but the early signs have been that it may not work in England. Also United have arguably had most of their success playing in a 4-3-3 this season.
Goalkeeper: David de Gea
The Spaniard has started to transform into one of the world’s best goalkeepers having initially endured something of an unspectacular start to his career with Manchester United.
De Gea has enjoyed his best year to date this campaign, playing magnificently against Arsenal, Liverpool and Everton to name but a few.
Although rumours have suggested that Real Madrid are sniffing around, I’m sure the Red Devils will do everything in their power to retain the services of the man, who is beginning to knock on the door of Manuel Neuer to become the world’s best in his position.
Left-back: Luke Shaw
At the tender age of 19, Shaw has already been capped by England, played at a World Cup and made a record £27 million move to Manchester United. However, you can see what all the hype is about having performed admirably for Southampton in the previous two seasons.
He appears to have no real flaws in his game. He is strong, quick, calm on the ball, a composed tackler, excellent crosser and has seems to have a very good character.
An unfortunate injury early on against Arsenal halted him somewhat, but now he is beginning to impress for his new club. He will be in the Manchester United side for many years to come.
It has become more than common knowledge that United need a new centre-back but the name on the lips of most people has been Mats Hummels and not that of Miranda.
However, I do believe that the Brazilian would be a better option than the German World Cup winner. Miranda has been at the heart of Atletico Madrid’s success in recent times and has hardly put a foot wrong in the past three seasons.
He has built a formidable defensive partnership with Diego Godin and the pair of them have been superb. Great in the air and a fantastic tackler, with a surprise burst of pace, he could be Van Gaal’s man. Would add much needed experience to the United backline.
Centre-back: Phil Jones
Not the greatest on the ball but a brilliant, dominant defender. Tipped by Sir Alex Ferguson to be a United legend, Jones hasn’t lived up to the hype yet. However, you can clearly see his potential, as he looks a superb athlete and defender at times.
Strong in the air and on the floor, Jones can be sloppy but you can’t deny his toughness and defensive abilities. At 22 he is still very young so has time to develop.
Right-back: Rafael da Silva
The young Brazilian has made the right-spot at Old Trafford his own following the retirement of Gary Neville. Having struggled under David Moyes last season along with many other members of the squad, Da Silva is beginning to rediscover the form which saw him impress under Ferguson.
Injury has halted his progress but his talent is clear to see and he should improve under Van Gaal. He too is still young and could become a mainstay of the defence for several seasons.
Defensive midfield: Kevin Strootman
The Dutchman has long been pursued by United and Van Gaal is openly a fan. Various reports have suggested that a deal to take Strootman to United will go ahead either in January or next summer.
Nothing is for certain but you can’t help but feel that this one will go ahead sometime. Touted as the new Roy Keane, he would add control and good passing as well as a willingness to scarp and tackle.
Michael Carrick is getting no younger and Daley Blind is talented utility man who probably isn’t of Strootman’s level. So his addition would be highly valuable.
Central midfield: Ander Herrera
Since joining United in the summer Herrera has taken some time to settle, but this has not been helped by injury and frequent rotation. But he should be an important player in the starting XI due to his creativity and ability to keep the ball so well.
Van Gaal is trying to build a possession based style of play at Old Trafford and if he is to pursue that, then he will surely mould a team together of Herrera-style players. The Spaniard needs to improve on the physical aspect but could be a great United player.
Central midfield: Angel di Maria
He should prove to be a huge success for Manchester United. Di Maria was at the heart of Real Madrid’s Champions League success last season and became a victim of their crazy transfer policy.
He is undoubtedly amongst the very best players in the world on his day and will light up the Premier League in the colours of United. In Spain he played in a central role (albeit as a CAM) and has played in midfield for his new employers on a couple of occasions this season.
Wayne Rooney could always drop back into midfield, as he often has, if the Argentine goes out wide and tries to take players on. He certainly has the work rate to play in this role.
Central attacking midfielder: Wayne Rooney
The new United captain and soon to be club record goal scorer, Rooney is the heartbeat of the team and has been for the best part of a decade. Question marks were raised at the start of the season but recently his form has really picked up for both club and country.
On his day still a top player, Rooney is surely central to all of Van Gaal’s plans at the Theatre of Dreams.
Striker: James Wilson
Keeping an English core in the side is crucial for United - and particularly if they are academy players like Wilson. Van Gaal likes the youngster and, at the age of 19, seemingly has a great future ahead.
Superb performances for the youth teams and a dream debut vs Hull City last season have ensured that many now see him as the club’s future No.9. Amidst all these ‘Van Gaalacticos’, United have always given youth a chance and he would be a symbol of the club's top academy.
Striker: Radamel Falcao
The Colombian has struggled so far in England mainly due to injuries but given the chance to build up his fitness, he is without a doubt world class. Despite Robin van Persie’s recent good form, I believe that at his age United should ship him off next summer while they can still command a decent sum.
Falcao would cost a considerable amount of money but if he finds the net as regularly as he has done in the past, then he’ll be definitely worth the punt.
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