Manchester United’s surge up the table may have come too late this year with Louis Van Gaal’s side finally understanding his philosophy.
8 points behind leaders Chelsea, with the West London club also having a game in hand United will rue dropped points against the likes of Swansea and that terrible Christmas period where draws against the likes of Aston Villa and Stoke saw United lose ground.
But Van Gaal is on course to finish in the top 3 as he stated was his intention, thus allowing for further spending in the summer to help build the team to his specifications.
Earlier this week former United captain Gary Neville suggested that United were 3 players away from being title contenders, stating:
“Two or three months ago, they would have been thinking Chelsea are a long way in front of us. Now the recruitment battle that will happen in the summer becomes critical. If they get that right, United will feel confident they can challenge Chelsea for the title next season.
“I don’t think this summer is a case of United rebuilding or total restructure of the squad. They need to continue to improve in two or three positions: a central defender, a midfielder and a winger.”
But who are these 3 players?
Firstly you would agree that United need a central defender with the likes of Smalling, Jones and Rojo all doing a passable job of defenders for a top club but with United likely to enter Europe next season passable impressions won’t be good enough and United will need real quality at the back.
Next is a central midfielder, this is an interesting one as United seem to have found a real gem in Ander Herrera. The Spaniard creates, scores and has the mettle about him to do a defensive shift if required. The problem arises with Michael Carrick though. An astonishing player who’s worth to the side can be seen in the performances when he is and isn’t playing, at 32 will need replacing sooner rather than later. Players of his quality aren’t readily available so United will likely go another route.
And finally Neville suggested a winger. This one I’m not so sure about as Ashley Young has been in good form out wide all season to suggest it is more than just a purple patch, add to that Angel Di Maria will be one year more experienced and at a push you can throw Nani’s name in the mix with the Portuguese star having a pretty impressive season back with Sporting Lisbon.
Personally I’d look for a striker. Robin Van Persie may be on his way out of the club quicker than I do online trading over the internet, Falcao’s deal won’t (shouldn’t) be made permanent meaning United will only have Wayne Rooney and James Wilson as striking options.
Van Gaal has confirmed that plans are already in place to sign players and have been since January as United wanted to avoid the problems of last summer where Van Gaal’s late arrival and the late signing of players didn’t see the team really mesh until it is too late:
“Already in January [we began thinking about next season] because we have to prepare our pre-season and Manchester United will go to America.
“The aim is of course that we have to train and not only to play matches. Already for three or four months we are talking about our pre-season.
“We also think about the scouting of players, the scouting of our own players because we have a lot on loan and then we have to analyse their performances, so it’s a lot of work.
“It’s not only the present season but also what we have to decide for players next season.”
So here are our picks as to who these players are
The most obvious is the Borussia Dortmund’s captain Mats Hummels. Initially the World Cup winner stated that he would stay at Dortmund despite their poor season. But as the season progressed his tune changed and manager Jurgen Klopp has admitted that the 26 year old is considering a move to Old Trafford.
News that Klopp would be leaving Dortmund this summer will have come as news to United’s ears as his departure will likely hasten Hummels’ steps.
Not the quickest of defenders Hummels’ composure and assuredness at the back will finally help alleviate some of the pressure on David De Gea (If he is still United’s keeper next year!), so the only question is who will partner him?
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