Following the departure of the dreaded David Moyes and after seeing Louis Van Gaal leading his Netherlands side to a very respectable third place in the World Cup, Manchester United fans were excited about this new addition to the managerial staff.
However it has not been all plain sailing for the Dutch coach, who asked for patience from the Manchester United followers.
Manchester United’s opening six games were considered ‘easy’ against beatable teams to welcome Mr Van Gaal to the Premier League and show what he can do.
But this was not the case at all, United lost their opening home game to Swansea City 2-1. This then started the comparisons to David Moyes, whose first game of the season was a comfortable 4-1 win away to Swansea. Manchester United seemed to pick up where they left off – losing at home, and being the butt of football jokes.
Things got only slightly better when United faced Sunderland. Pulling a point back and drawing 1-1 (thanks to a Juan Mata goal) was certainly better than defeat, but the team still weren’t off to a great start. Little did the squad, the manager, and the fans know, the worst was yet to come.
On the 26th of August, Manchester United fans saw the most bittersweet day of the season thus far.
Louis van Gaal pulled off one of the best signings, and the most expensive signing in the Premier League, Real Madrid’s Angel Di Maria. It showed fans what Louis van Gaal was capable of and it was a great morale boost for fans. But, that evening United faced MK Dons in the Capital One Cup. A lower league team is surely easy to beat, even with a weakened side. This was not the case.
United were humiliated by their 4-0 defeat – the team looked tired and uninterested, and it was very clear that a handful of players were ready to leave. Most noticeably was Chicharito, who was linked with a move away for months. He had no passion or drive, and certainly wasn’t the player fans had grown to love. It was no surprise when he completed a loan move to Real Madrid.
United faced Burnley, yet neither side found the back of the net, and United still hadn’t gained those three crucial points. This was their last game before the transfer window closed and United needed to make signings.
The next day, Manchester United announced the signing of midfielder Daley Blind.
Not surprising, as Blind played under Van Gaal in the World Cup. But the biggest surprise signing came in the final hours of deadline day – Van Gaal signed Colombian Radamel Falcao on loan for the season. After finishing seventh the previous season, losing Champions League football and having not won a game yet, it was incredible to think United could sign these types of world class players.
Their next match was against Queens Park Rangers, and saw Rio Ferdinand return to the Old Trafford for the first time since he joined Harry Redknapp’s side.
Finally, Louis van Gaal and Manchester United secured their first win of the season. They beat QPR a comfortable 4-0, with Ander Herrera finding the back of the net, as did Di Maria on his home debut. It was clear to see from the start that Di Maria would play a big part in United’s season, not only with goals but assists.
This joy was short lived unfortunately, as United then faced Premier League newcomers Leicester City. Despite leading the match 3-1, United then conceded four more goals, finishing with a 5-3 score line. It was like they had taken a step forward then two back. Things were getting worse before they were getting better, but Van Gaal urged fans to stay behind the team.
The next challenge for United was West Ham United at home.
This saw the midfield diamond being used and 19 year old Paddy McNair’s debut. McNair is one of many youth players that have been given the opportunity to play for the first team, something which has been praised.
Leading 2-0 at half time was what they needed, and Wayne Rooney scored a great goal within the first five minutes. But as always, come the second half, mistakes were made. An out of character slip up from David De Gea saw West Ham pull a goal back, and just before the hour mark had been reached, Wayne Rooney was given a straight red card.
His challenge was stupid, and the captain faced immense criticism for the kick which sees him miss United’s next three games. Bad news for the captain, but good news for Juan Mata who had been dropped from first team duty. He now has three games to prove his worth.
United’s last game before the current international break was Everton. And it was everything United fans could have hoped for -Di Maria on the score sheet and playing beautiful football, Falcao finally scoring his first United goal, and another three points to take United to Arsenal’s fourth place spot.
Manchester United now find themselves in the top four for the first time in more than 12 months, and Louis van Gaal has achieved back to back home wins – something that David Moyes couldn’t do last season.
Following these somewhat ‘difficult’ three months, which have been hit and miss as players adjust to life in the Premier League and gel together as a team, things are on the up for Manchester United.
The signings Van Gaal have made have been magnificent – Angel Di Maria is world class, Daley Blind has been so crucial in his last few games and now Falcao has opened up his scoring account, you can hope it will only continue. David De Gea is now also at his absolute best. He should have been Man of the Match against Everton, saving a Leighton Baines penalty, and ensuring United didn’t drop points.
All in all, just what Van Gaal predicted – some twists and turns along the way, but it wouldn’t be football or Manchester United without that! The best is yet to come for United – but just how good it can get remains to be seen.
Manchester United fans. What do you think will happen this season? Will you finish in the top four? Let us know your thoughts below or tweet us @LaFootyettes.