They were far from the finished product when the final whistle blew at the KC Stadium on Sunday, with Manchester United finishing the season trophyless yet again.
But something was different this time around compared to last season’s final game, where they drew at Stoke City and at least salvaged a bit of pride following a disastrous campaign.
There was an air of inevitability and, despite the atmosphere of mixed emotions combined with the Hull fans’ disenchantment at being relegated, there was a sense that this was the last time we’d see a lifeless, dull and lacklustre United performance for quite some time.
Of course, prior to the game United knew that fourth place was essentially all they could achieve. It was summed up in their body language as they walked out of the tunnel at Hull.
Captain Wayne Rooney emerged with the usual look of steel in his eyes, leading out his less-than-intrigued teammates. Even he will reflect that he could have produced a little bit more and that fourth place was the only solace in this the season of change.
Their performance certainly told the story. But for a few half chances created through Rooney himself and Spaniard Ander Herrera, the game ended in a dreary goalless draw, with both sides, rather indifferently, sealing their fates for next season.
As yet another busy, big-spending summer looms at Old Trafford, United will surely head into it with a game-plan and will look to identify targets early, if they haven't done so already. Louis van Gaal naturally gave nothing away when asked about potential signings, but there was been enough there to suggest he had a few in the pipeline.
Memphis Depay is the first of a number of those few expected at the heralded front gates of Old Trafford and certainly got United fans excited following his exploits with PSV in his final swan-song in the Eredivisie.
Van Gaal though also has to decide on the futures of Angel di Maria and compatriot Robin van Persie after both endured disappointing seasons. It could be argued that RVP has surpassed his best and could look for pastures anew should he be told to leave.
Di Maria, however, still has far more to prove following his dip in form. The arrival of Depay certainly does not make things easier for the Argentine and Van Gaal will have to figure out a system to get the best out of the Premier League’s record signing – he remains one of the best players in the world, after all.
Money no issue
United have the financial muscle once again and boast all the resources at their disposal to challenge for silverware, with more cash believed to be readied through their new Adidas kit deal.
Van Gaal also has to settle on one of his many tried and tested formations and keep the team playing with fluidity, as they did in their standout performances against Spurs, Liverpool and City last season. It was a glimpse of the United of old, blasting teams away with raw pace, sheer energy and deadly counter-attacks – something their fans were starved of for most parts of last season.
Mancunians across the globe and certainly those loyal season ticket holders within the corridors of Old Trafford deserve to see their team reclaim their throne as the kings of English football once again. They deserve to witness the real United, at the very least.
United fans, do you agree? What do you think needs to happen in order for your team to return to its glory days? Let us know in the comments box below.
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