1) Can Louis van Gaal start as his predecessor did with a win over Swansea?
Almost a year ago to the day the chants of “We’ll win the football league again, this time with David Moyes” rang from the away end of the Liberty Stadium as United romped home to a 4-1 victory. This optimism was soon to be taken over by the gloom that surrounded Moyes’ tenure in charge of the Red Devils. Whilst hoping for a similar result, it is important not to get carried away as most of us did that day. Hopefully there is little danger of this happening amongst level-headed reds as United will be embarking on a campaign where a fourth place finish would be seen as a satisfying season. Beating teams of the stature of Swansea at home is the kind of thing that the team must do in order to avoid finishing outside of the Champions League places. It was something that Moyes failed to do last season on numerous occasions, and ultimately it cost him his job.
2) How will the new signing fare?
It would be nice for the word ‘signing’ to be plural but, alas, due to a mixture of Luke Shaw’s injury and incompetence in the transfer market yet again; it will just be Ander Herrera likely to be making his debut. The Spanish midfielder has impressed in pre-season and will be looking to take that form into the new Premier League campaign. Whilst perhaps not necessarily justifying his huge fee on quality alone, the Spaniard will bring something different to the middle of the park and in pre-season has transformed United’s play just by being someone who can competently play the ball forward with positivity and gusto.
3) Will Ashley Young start and continue his red hot pre-season form?
With new left-back Luke Shaw out for the next month and Van Gaal likely to start with his 3-5-2/5-3-2 formation, then Young will be the man to continue in his recent position as left wing-back. He has been mightily impressive in the role, scoring two goals against Real Madrid, one of which was a passing move of real quality; and has even shown signs of defensive maturity when called upon to provide it. Swansea at home is the kind of game Young should shine in and the Dutch coach will be looking for the former Villa man to bring his A-game to the Premier League.
4) How will a potentially inexperienced backline do?
The exits of both Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic have left United short at the back and the manager has appeared keen to only replace them with players from the current squad having found little value in the transfer market. Jonny Evans missed the midweek clash with Valencia and it is looking unlikely that he will feature on the opening day. This means that, should Van Gaal continue with his current formation, there will be a vacant space alongside Chris Smalling and Phil Jones in the centre of defence. In times past, Michael Carrick would’ve been entrusted to the role to add experience, but with him out injured for the foreseeable future, it is likely that it will be one of Michael Keane or Tyler Blackett to start at the back. The latter is the favourite to start but despite seeming at home at centre-back on the USA tour, the Premier League is a different animal. The hope will be that Jones and Smalling will help the 20 year old adjust to life on the big stage.
5) Can Marouane Fellaini prove his worth?
After having to endure the ironic applause of some sections of the United support at Old Trafford on Tuesday, the Belgian managed to nick the winning goal and show the naysayers what he can do when called upon to deliver. Whilst the taunts have invariably been put down to ‘daytrippers’ visiting Old Trafford on a rare expedition up north, there is a large majority of fans who do believe the midfielder is not up to the task of being a Manchester United player. Fellaini frustrated so often in his first season and the word is that Van Gaal would like to get rid of him as soon as possible. There must’ve been something to justify David Moyes forking out a huge sum for him, but it is up to him to prove it. Whether he will start tomorrow is up for debate but he will likely feature from the bench if needed and he will need to step up to the plate if he is not to suffer the same fate as Anderson and be sent out on loan to Serie A.