Since David Moyes departed the club and Louis Van Gaal has taken over, there has been a lot of change to the team. Not all of this change has been personnel, but more in the way of the attitude and outlook of the existing players. Some of these players can count themselves very lucky that Moyes reign has come to an end as it may otherwise have spelt the end of their Old Trafford careers.
Last Summer, United had an abysmal pre-season. They won 2/7 games against poor Asian sides whereas this year they won 5/5 against Europe’s elite teams, including a win against the old rival.
Last year, the players looked tired, even though this was the World Cup year and many of the squad had very little holiday time. This year, players who were underperforming and letting themselves and the club down are rejuvenated and look like the top quality players they are expected to be at this club.
One of the group of players whose United career is all the better for Moyes departure is Robin Van Persie. After signing in 2012, he went on to win a Premier League medal along with the Golden Boot award in his first season. His reputation in the game was ever growing and he was viewed as one of the best Centre Forwards in the game. A year later, he spent most of the season in the Physio’s room and when he did play, often had the body language of someone who was unhappy. His already formed relationship with the new manager could see him back to his clinical best which means one thing…goals, and lots of them.
Another player who has possibly escaped a summer departure with Moyes’ dismissal is Ashley Young. After a promising first season with the club, albeit plagued with injury, Young has been very inconsistent in a red shirt. He is capable of inspired pieces of skill and wonderful goals. So far in pre-season, he has thrived in the wing back position. I’ve been impressed with Young’s determination to keep his status as a United player on the US tour. Having played all of his professional career as a winger with a full back playing behind him, Young has been adamant to impress in his defensive duties by abandoning some attacking responsibility. His crossing has always been good which is a huge plus, having Rooney and Van Persie floating around the penalty area. Likely to be kept, if even just as a rotation player.
Shinji Kagawa was used sparingly under Moyes who still reiterated his intention to keep Kagawa at every possible opportunity. Even after the purchase of Mata, Moyes said Kagawa would have a part to play in United’s future. It didn’t seem feasible. Kagawa would have left if the likes of Borussia Dortmund came in with a substantial offer. As of Aug 11, Van Gaal says Kagawa will be kept as an option. Without Champions League, United don’t need quite a large squad this season and many of the players will be fresh from week to week. I do think United will be back in Europe this time next year and Van Gaal recognises that he will need an able replacement for Mata when the games are coming thick and fast. Why spend big money on someone next Summer when he could just hold on to Kagawa now?
With that in mind, some players have not been as lucky as the above. Marouane Fellaini no longer has his lengthy relationship with Moyes keeping him on the United books and he could be out the door soon. Nani and Zaha are both still expected to be subject to requirements while Javier Hernandez, while still a favourite with the fans is linked with a number of clubs.
It could be a very interesting time for United fans between now and September 1st.