When David Moyes was relieved of his duties as Manchester United manager in April 2014, all the anti-Man United fans, I am sure, were laughing in hysterics at the Old Trafford clubs demise. Supporters of rival clubs probably envisaged United sliding further and further down the league table as games went on. But, one year on from that abysmal campaign, the record 20-time English champions are crawling their way back into footballing heaven.
When Louis van Gaal was announced as the next man to take over the red throne in Manchester, fans were licking their lips, already tasting the silverware supply that had, somewhat, dried up for a season.
LVG’s signing of Argentine midfielder Angel Di Maria for £59.7million, a British record transfer fee, topped with the deadline day loan signing of Colombian striker Radamel Falcao meant that United’s attacking talent on show had the potential to destroy opposition. However, the fiery start that United supporters expected did not quite live up to the hype, although glimpses were shown as to how devastating this United team could be. Take the extraordinary chip scored by Angel Di Maria against Leicester City, though they did go on to lose that game 5-3.
Over £150million was splashed out to rejuvenate the United squad, after Rio Ferdinand, Nemanja Vidic and Patrice Evra had all departed the most decorated club in English football. Midfield maestro Ryan Giggs decided to call time on his trophy laden career, hang up his boots and instead become Louis Van Gaal’s assistant manager. Despite lorry loads of cash being spent in the transfer window, Manchester United had failed to sign a world class centre back to cover the hole left by veterans, Vidic and Rio Ferdinand.
The Red Devils weakness would be exploited, as they found out when facing the leagues giants such as Chelsea and Manchester City. Robin Van Persie’s injury time goal rescued a vital point against Jose Mourinho’s league leaders; Chelsea at Old Trafford, but only after David De Gea pulled off a string of fine saves.
The following game against Manchester City saw United succumb to a 1-0 loss after Chris Smalling’s red card saw the reds reduced to 10 men.
By the New Year United were already 10 points behind leaders Chelsea, but were on track for the champion’s league places as they sat third in the table. In comparison to the same stage of last season with David Moyes in charge, the Red Devils sat in an alarming 6th place.
For all of United’s problems; from their leaky defence to their severe lack of confidence, they embarked on an unbeaten run that included just 2 defeats in 22 league matches. Louis van Gaal’s men didn’t really pose a title challenge but they were on route to European football returning to Old Trafford.
The breakthrough for United came against Tottenham Hotspur at Old Trafford. Robin Van Persie injured and Radamel Falcao misfiring provided the chance for Wayne Rooney to play as a striker again. United were playing with confidence and free flowing football and playing high up the pitch, three first-half goals capped an impressive 3-0 win for United. The impressive form continued against the likes of Liverpool and of course an excellent 4-2 win over noisy neighbours Manchester City.
With Manchester United now guaranteed Champions league football next season Louis van Gaal will look to continue strengthening his squad and bring his first trophy to Old Trafford, after a poor run in the cup competitions this season, but ultimately the main goal will be to be serious challengers for the league.
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