The start of the new Premier League season is here. While the World Cup may have provided entertainment for the best part of your summer, club football always tops internationals as far as I am concerned.
Ed Woodward has completed two signings thus far but there is still lots of work to be done in the transfer window. Although, with time running out, I’m beginning to fear the worst. A repeat of last summer’s disastrous transfer window for Manchester United does not look far off.
In terms of selection on Saturday, Louis van Gaal has nine injuries to work around. The new manager is trying to implement his 3-5-2 formation on a squad that played terribly negative last season, so it will take some time to adjust. Van Gaal has, therefore, asked for patience from fans hinting that it could take 3 months for his players to play the system properly.
With that in mind, I think we’ll see a team of: De Gea; Smalling – Jones – Blackett; Young – Fletcher – Herrera – James; Mata; Rooney – Hernandez.
Amongst the injuries was Rafael Da Silva, who has apparently passed a fitness test. However, that does not mean he is anywhere near match fitness having missed most of the pre-season tour while his teammates were really put through their paces. I do not expect him anywhere near the team but there could be more U21s called upon – Tom Thorpe or Marnick Vermijl.
Wayne Rooney will captain the side up top in the No. 9 role. It remains to be seen if James Wilson gets a call up following the injury to Danny Welbeck, but Javier Hernandez should start.
In the absence of Jonny Evans, I’m assuming Tyler Blackett will be used in that role, and while the U21 has been impressive on tour, inexperience is a concern. Unless we go out and sign one or two defenders which is totally necessary, it is vital that Phil Jones and Chris Smalling stay fit. I wouldn’t hold your breath.
The manager spoke about handing the captaincy to Rooney in yesterday’s press conference, but he offered nothing out of the ordinary except for a nice quote about flying. Yes, flying.
“After Tuesday’s game [2-1 win over Valencia] I joked with him don’t try too hard – let it fly.”
Van Gaal spoke about the 28-year-old’s attitude on and off the pitch and he’s already a fan. To be fair, it would best to get behind Rooney now as our captain. When I initially thought about him as captain I shuddered in disbelief. Flashbacks of 2010 and 2013 are still major obstacles for the mind to get over but the club’s chances being successful increases if Rooney returns to his peak.
Also, it’s probably a matter of managing egos. Robin van Persie was always favourite to be Van Gaal’s captain at United but when you think about it, he is more than happy to have him there as manager. Rooney, on the other hand, is the type of player that needs a path on the back and arm around his shoulder. In the right frame of mind he can lead the club to greater heights.
The deadwood remains and there’s less than 20 days remaining in the transfer window. I still think we’ll see 5 or more sold but hopefully that opens up the possibility of welcoming others. We’re light in defence and midfield and Woodward has seemingly postponed preparation for the new season with his laid back ways. Either that or he’s still completely out of his depth – take your pick.
Anyway, for now, we look onto the first game of the season – against Swansea City.
Come on you reds.
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