PRE-SEASON: Man United Part 2

Part 2 of our pre-season look at Man United comes courtesy of Zac who runs an excellent red blog which is very much worth your time, despite the subject matter!

Hi Zac. Louis Van Gaal, eh. What happens if he fails this year? United, both the clubs and fans, seem very much to have put the entirety of their faith in him…

I don’t want to imagine Louis van Gaal failing. It’s not right to say, but it genuinely hurts to look at David Moyes right now.


The sight evokes all kinds of bad feelings. The signs are good so far, though. The signs are good. So far. Deep breaths, now.

With the recent departures of Ferdinand, Vidic and now Evra, your defence is looking a bit thin at the moment. Can the current players on the books step up or will new additions need to be bought in? 

United clearly need reinforcements, because there’s about five players there: Rafael, Jones, Smalling, Evans and Shaw. Curious to know what people think about them: Rafael is an excellent right-back, I’d say, while Jonny Evans is such an intelligent centre-back. Van Gaal has apparently been most impressed with him out of the three, which isn’t really a surprise.

Jonny Evans

Jones and Smalling are definitely not right-backs, but still need to improve like Evans has in the middle. A defensive three could, of course, help hide any flaws that exist. One more in that position along with the promotion of Michael Keane, and a wing-back that isn’t Antonio Valencia or Ashley Young is what’s required.

The top 4 teams have all strengthened this summer in areas where they were weak last year. Can United catch any of us?  

Of course. When we won the title in 2012/13, we relied on Robin van Persie and other players like Rafael, Jonny Evans and Michael Carrick. It depends on whether the manager can get the best out of those squad players in defence and midfield like Ferguson did – or, like David Moyes, not, and finish seventh (ffs). Allow those to play and our forwards – genuine title-winning quality – can take us somewhere that isn’t competing with Newcastle United.

Rob asked you last summer where you stand on Rooney; you seemed to want him out ASAP – has anything changed?

I continue to feel uncomfortable enjoying him. He has a great knack of scoring a fine goal immediately after I’ve decided, for the hundredth time, that I want him banished forever.

Manchester United's Wayne Rooney

His first touch is so bad, he slows down countless attacks, he drifts absent-mindedly … but then he also beats players, hits a great pass, a great shot – I just don’t know. I think he’ll be fantastic under Van Gaal this season next to Van Persie and ahead of Juan Mata, so there’s that. I suppose I can say that he’s reached a point where I mostly feel ambivalence.

And finally, the Be Nice About City question: if you could have one of our players for your first XI this season, who would it be? 

This is an easy one, I think. Safe in the knowledge that few Liverpool fans will read this, Yaya Toure. I’d say he was by far the best player in the Premier League last season – not to take away from Luis Suarez … scratch that, to absolutely take away from Luis Suarez – and that, throughout, it was an individual performance that will be difficult to top for any midfielder.

Yaya villa x2

United fans, as I’m certain you’ve noticed, have been crying out for a midfielder that is, well, good, but also one that has many of the qualities of their past celebrated box-to-box types. He is a little sloppy at points, I know, but then that’s probably easy to excuse when he’s scored 20 goals from midfield.

You are very much correct to say that it’s easy to excuse his occasional sloppiness! Thanks a lot. Hopefully this season isn’t as existentially horrible as last year for you…

Interview by Alex Timperley who is on Twitter

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