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Rio Ferdinand says that Louis van Gaal and Wayne Rooney are “under pressure” this season

Former Manchester United centre-back Rio Ferdinand suggested that manager Louis van Gaal and captain Wayne Rooney must perform to the best of their abilities and finish in the top two this season after another summer of spending.

The former Manchester United defender, who is now a pundit after retiring at the end of last season with Queens Park Rangers, revealed his concerns for the club in this upcoming season. The once United captain said that Van Gaal does not know how he should set up his defence still and has lost a piece of the club’s identity. The Englishman said:

“I don’t think Van Gaal knows his best defence. That’s a problem in itself. Part of the reason he doesn’t know it is because he hasn’t had a chance to watch them all play over a long time – consistently for 12 or 15 games.

“If you don’t get that familiarity between you as defenders, it’s difficult to build foundations. I played with Vidic for six years with no fitness problems between us. I woke up on a Saturday knowing that Vida was going to be fit and he was the same with me. I knew Edwin van der Sar was going to be behind me [in goal].”

Ferdinand is looking forward to United’s next season, but knows that there is a lot riding on it for the club and for Van Gaal. With the Dutchman’s first season under his belt, the pressure to succeed has increased for him due to the team’s top four finish last season and the new additions to the team.

“Of course he is under pressure.

“At least to improve and finish in second place. Man United need to be finishing, at a minimum, in second place this season, and maybe get their hands on a trophy.

“You have to go out there and show that there has been an improvement on the year before when you spend a lot of money.”

Ferdinand was released by United before signing for Queens Park Rangers, where he retired. Following Ferdinand’s release, several other players have left the club last season and more followed this summer. With a lot of changes made by the club since the hiring of Van Gaal, Ferdinand expressed how he views these changes:

“Was it done too drastically? Only the players who are there will be able to tell you that in years to come, when they reflect.

“But this is a massive season in that respect. He’s had last season and a whole pre-season to really drill his ideas and philosophy into these players so there are no excuses now.

“I think first you need a good start. Their start last year was shocking. If they do that this year… They need to start well.

“The policy is definitely a far cry from what it was before at Manchester United. It’s similar to all the other clubs that we’ve seen spending lots of money over the last five or 10 years. Man United have kind of gone into that category now.

“It’s a little bit sad, yeah, if you’re a romanticist where Man United were that team that weren’t like everyone else.”

Ferdinand commented on the United’s transfers and the club’s targets this summer. He felt that Sergio Ramos tricked the team into pursuing a player who was never planning on going anywhere and thinks that the Spaniard’s foolery has hurt Van Gaal’s current back-line. Ferdinand also claimed that the new signings can be instrumental for United in the upcoming season and he has high expectations for them. He said:

“Time will tell if they are good signings.

“These players have still got to prove, not only to the Man United fans and to the staff but to themselves, that they can play here.

“It’s a great challenge to have for [the new signings] but they’ve still got to go and prove that, so that’s the difference. They’re all good players, they’re all great, fantastically talented players.

“I’m excited to see how Depay fares this season but there’s still a risk element to signing someone so young for a different league.”

For Rooney, a large goal tally is required of him this season and he says he is up for the challenge.  The United skipper will be playing in a more advanced role and does not have much competition for that position at the moment. Ferdinand, like Rooney, feels that the striker needs to find the back of the net more often in the future. Ferdinand said:

“They are under pressure. The pressure is huge for Rooney. He has got a big season ahead of him. He has to score 20-25 goals this season, for Man United to win the league and be successful. In any capacity the number nine for Man United has to score 25 goals a season.”

With all of Ferdinand’s expectations and predictions for the 2015-16 season, the excitement for the new season is building. United should not feel the pressure but need to know that it is there and that fans expect a better season than last year. The club has to retain the status it once had, and with the new signings and the strong leadership of Van Gaal and Rooney, United can achieve a top two finish or even the title.

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