Louis van Gaal, the newly installed Manchester United manager was less than impressed with his side, despite cruising to a simple victory over Liverpool in the pre-season International Champions Cup final. Van Gaal was apparently critical of his side’s sluggish display, although they still picked up his first piece of silverware with a 3-1 victory, which probably should have been more.
However, he will come away from the USA feeling quite satisfied as his side remain unbeaten under his stewardship, despite the implementation of new training regimes and a new 3-5-2 system on the pitch.
Real Madrid, Roma, LA Galaxy and Liverpool were all beaten comfortably enough, while it took penalties to put Inter Milan to bed, but United are looking revitalised as the cloud and demure demeanour that David Moyes brought into Old Trafford, has gone without a trace.
Who Will Leave?
The next couple of days should reveal much about who has impressed van Gaal during the tour, with Javier Hernandez, Anderson and Felaini (who missed the trip) all likely candidates to be shown the door before the start of the season.
Van Gaal doesn’t tend to suffer fools, and he could be likely to look at dispatching a few other players who have shown inconsistency since joining the club, Kagawa and Nani will perhaps be concerned, as competition for places in their positions is at a premium.
The captaincy will also be decided shortly, with Darren Fletcher and Wayne Rooney in the running, but in all likelihood van Gaal will opt for fellow Dutchman van Persie as his leader on the pitch. The Dutch captain has also been missing from the tour, more concerned with sunning himself on the beaches of Barbados than his sides exploits in the ICC.
United have been heavily backed to regain their Premier League crown this year, the fact they now seem to have the right manager in place, combined with no midweek European exploits to potentially burden their challenge, seemingly offering a very attractive proposition for punters.
Last season, Liverpool performed way above what can reasonably be expected of a side with their ability, and many attribute their 2nd place finish to the fact they had no midweek fixtures, combined with the exploits of Luis Suarez – both aspects of which will no longer be present this season.
Ronaldo Leaves Door Open
Meanwhile, Cristiano Ronaldo has also predicted a bright future for United under their new manager, while also refusing to rule out a potential return to the club that made him at some point in the future. Speaking before his Real side were easily dispatched by United he said: “I love Manchester, to be back, I never know, you never know, football you never know.”
Prediction for the Top 10 in the Premier League
1. Manchester United
3. Manchester City
9. Hull City
10. Aston Villa