Despite an unbeaten start to the season there have been many questions raised on the conduct of Manchester United both on and off the pitch. As with tradition, United have been a popular talking point in the media this summer as Louis Van Gaal looks to build on a fourth place finish in his debut season as manager. The experienced Dutchman will without doubt be in search of better performances and results from his team as United have now gone two seasons without a major trophy since the departure of Sir Alex Ferguson, which is predicament in which United fans are not used to. However, with the return of Champions League football and the record breaking sponsorship deal with Adidas, United now have the platform to reclaim their dominance of English football back from the likes of Chelsea, Arsenal as well as local rivals City, who can no longer been seen as mere noisy neighbours.
United began the transfer window well with the early signing of exciting young Dutch forward Memphis Depay before following with the additions of Italian full back Mateo Darmian, impressive French international midfielder Morgan Schneiderlin from Southampton as well as Germany captain and world cup winner Bastian Schweinsteiger, for a reported combined fee in excess of £80 million. However the attitude amongst fans has turned sour in recent weeks with the departure and undeniable flop of last summers record signing Angel Di Maria, who departed to Paris Saint Germain for £44.3 million, with United being left red faced after making a £15 million loss on the Argentine who could very well go on to be a huge success in Paris. The mood around Old Trafford has further been dampened due to the ongoing transfer saga surrounding first choice goalkeeper and player of the season for the past two seasons, David De Gea. It is no secret that the Spaniard is keen on a move back home to Spanish giants Real Madrid and the saga also involved an embarrassing debacle in which various media outlets in both England and Spain were suggesting a bid or even a swap deal involving defender Sergio Ramos had been submitted before the Madrid captain eventually signed a new lucrative deal. To make matters worse it looks almost certain De Gea will soon be teammates with Ramos although in Madrid with the Spaniards contract expiring at the end of the season, Madird now seem keen to obtain his services for free at the end of the season, a possibility that may not be denied by manager Louis Van Gaal as he remains adamant that United will not sell another of their star players to Real.
The Red Devils performances on the pitch in this seasons opening games have been mixed. Despite an unbeaten start in the Premier League, United’s most recent 0-0 draw at home to Newcastle highlighted the lack of apparent goals in the team. With the departure of Robin Van Persie in the summer, the majority of the goal scoring responsibility now lies on the shoulders of Captain Wayne Rooney, who has had a poor start to the season, displaying a poor first touch as well as a lack of pace to support the likes of new signing Memphis, Juan Mata and Adnan Januzaj. United’s scarce backup options in the striker position include the out of favour Javier Hernandez, who spent last season on loan at Real Madrid, as well as young and untested James Wilson, who has shown flashes of class in his limited United first team appearances. This has led to many fans calling for Van Gaal to dip in to the transfer market again in the final week for an out and out striker, although Van Gaal continues to claim that United do not need another striker and is happy with his options. The manager may in fact be looking for a players in other positions although United failings in the transfer market were again bought into the spotlight in the past week when Pedro, who had looked certain to complete a move to United after chief executive Ed Woodward reportedly flew to Barcelona to conclude a deal, only for the Spanish forward to eventually sign a deal with Chelsea, scoring and assisting Diego Costa on his debut as Chelsea recorded their first victory of the season against West Brom at the Hawthorns this weekend.
One positive from United’s start to the season has been their defensive form. Despite the disappointing draw at home on the weekend, they are still yet to concede a goal in the league and Chris Smalling has started the season in impressive form, displaying a new attitude referred to as “beast mode” by former United defensive legend Rio Ferdinand, whilst striking a successful early partnership with makeshift centre back Daley Blind, who has also impressed in his latest new position amongst the United team. New signing Mateo Darmian has started the season well giving United a touch of class in the right back position that they have lacked in previous seasons. And with the addition of Luke Shaw beginning to display the form that encouraged United to splash £30 million on his services last summer as well as the immanent returns of Marcos Rojo and Phil Jones, there is cause for optimism on a United defence that has been heavily criticized in recent seasons. The unpredictability of the current United squad leaves plenty of questions to be answered and with the transfer window closing in less than a week, fans will be hoping that the direction in which their team is heading this season will be clearer by the end of the week.