Gary Neville: Manchester United better placed for better start to the new season

Early August. The buzz and excitement for the start of the new Premier league season is palpable, giddy fans excited to see how new signings will fair on their debuts, excited to see if the 3-0 win against the Australian Champions in pre-season can be built upon against a real test. For the last two seasons, the excitement has been quickly dampened for fans of Manchester United. A string of poor results have led to early season blues. But speaking to Sky Sports, Gary Neville believes things may take a turn for the better this campaign.

“Louis van Gaal has had a year at the club now, he’s settled in, the players know him a lot more.

“I suppose there is a risk if they bring in five or six new players about how they would adapt to it but we’ve yet to see that.

“The players that are there will adapt a lot easier this season, they’ve had a year with him, he’s had a year with them and it should be a more comfortable position to start from.”

Things certainly are much better placed than they have been the last two terms. There is finally a consistency in training methods, in expectations and in styles of play. There is an authority about the preparations this summer, down to the finest detail (even to the extent of travel between destinations in America on tour) that give everything a new optimistic outlook.

For the last two seasons, there has been the need for old tricks to be forgotten and new ones to be learned, therefore hindering any real progress being made early on. Now, however, the textbook isn’t fresh, it’s used. There are already plenty of entries in there, and they just need to be added to rather than rewritten. Players know what is expected of them and have the basics in place already ready for evolutions and manipulations added to previous knowledge.

Then comes signings, and the piece de resistance as far as preseason preparations go. Signings really decide how excited fans enter the new season. And Neville eludes to them. Five or six may be over egging the cake, surely there cannot be that many names waiting to arrive. But there are at least three potentials, three very exciting potentials. If the papers are to be believed (when are they ever really? But let’s say so for argument’s sake) then Morgan Schneiderlin, Sergio Ramos and Seamus Coleman should be enough to get the juices flowing (though, personally Ramos doesn’t, but I am aware I’m part of a minority).

As far as the signs show, Gary Neville is right. The start of the season holds much greater prospects than any since Sir Alex Ferguson’s last in charge. And the effect could snowball on the season, as a weak start last season certainly stopped United from finishing higher than the fourth place they eventually did. Another one could well stop Louis van Gaal from winning his maiden Premier League, but should things start well, there’s no reason why celebrations in May are completely ludicrous to believe in.


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