The first year of Louis van Gaal’s reign as Manchester United manager has come to an end. Just as quick as it started, it has finished. The fourth place finish is something that has been accepted by all fans as a reasonable achievement. Even when you consider the amount of money spent on star-studded players and the high calibre manager this position with no silverware has been deemed satisfactory in what was a ‘building year’. Many Red Devils would be disappointed that they did not see their side lift any trophy this year. But it is almost forgotten instantaneously when the final whistle of the final game goes. Instead thought diverts its attention to next season.
We are currently in the middle of what is an odd month for football. In June the previous season becomes a thing of the past with no time to dwell. Instead the football talk turns into a blur of mismatched transfer rumours and speculation which no club can avoid no matter it’s prestige. But it is within this time that a little thought should be cast upon what Manchester United fans can realistically expect. It could be said that this discussion may be premature, the top clubs have yet to really show their hand in the summer market and signings so far have been minimum. However for a club like Manchester United this should not hold back a judgement on what can and should be achieved next season. Signings should not be a parameter for expectations.
It is all well and good demanding having the best players at the club. But fans should not be restricted to hopes based on who has and hasn’t arrived during summer. Having emerged out of the assembling process, Van Gaal has been given time to implement his philosophy. Van Gaal has his targets and he’ll get them, he will bring in those players that are needed. So when it comes to the start of the new season and he names his twenty-five man squad fans should have every faith that it is the best that it could have been.
This season does carry more pressure for the Dutchman with no more excuses to hide behind. But it should be a season for him to relish. Van Gaal has shown he can thrive under pressure with Manchester United on a number of occasions. Based on purely head to head statistics amongst the top clubs it is evident that a title-winning season is in close reach. Van Gaal and his team only need to iron out the mistakes made against smaller clubs. This is obviously easier said then done but it shows that as a club winning the title next year is not unrealistic. With only lesser results holding the team back fans can be assured the Van Gaal will not let his team suffer at the hands of clubs such as West Bromwich Albion who managed to take four points over the two fixtures. Obviously there are exceptions with some games where teams do not perform for one or two reasons, but over the whole season Manchester United should expect to drop fewer points against lower league opposition than they did this year.
Wayne Rooney himself has expressed that the Barclays Premier League title next year is achievable:
“I think we’re close, there’s no doubt about it. You can see in our performances, we’re outplaying teams, dominating possession, and it’s just that final thing of taking our chances.
“As a group of players, myself and the manager – we all believe we’re close and I’m sure with a player or two in the summer we’ll have a good chance of going for the title.”
So we await with eager anticipation for that day in August where the first whistle is blown to kick off the 2015/16 season. Yes other clubs will strengthen and it will be all the familiar names up and around that top spot. Winning the twenty-first top division title is not only a hope, but it is a realistic expectation. Manchester United have been briefly knocked off their perch but under the new regime they will no doubt return as quickly as they have fallen.
This article was researched and written by Zachary Gain. You can follow him on Twitter.