Tuesday 26 May 2015

So it's mission accomplished.. but expectations will be higher next term

Before the start of the season, the idea of United-- having finished seventh last term- finishing in the top four was greeted by scorn but with a proven manager of Louis van Gaal's ilk in place and quality still in the squad it was always a realistic possibility.

As we all know, LVG did exactly that in a satisfactory first season in charge and whilst a club of United's size and stature and our fans should not be happy with finishing in fourth place (as Van Gaal himself alluded to), it's a start and a step in the right direction.

Van Gaal set out to get United into the top four, and that's what he did, so regardless of the relatively small number of extra points gained, this season has to be considered a success.
We're still a work in progress, of that there is no doubt, but no-one can deny that this was a marked improvement from the dark days of the previous campaign.
Next season will be a bigger test of credentials both for Van Gaal and this squad, with a tilt at the title high on the agenda. 
It's difficult to say that we will definitely win it (the unlimited spending power of Chelsea and Manchester City will again put them ahead of the rest) but at the very least I'd expect United to be in contention.

Expectations will be higher so for me we should be looking for a top three finish and, with van Gaal having won a trophy in his second season in each of his previous jobs, a cup win wouldn't go amiss either. 

Van Gaal now has a greater understanding of the unpredictability of the English game (something he lacked in the first few months in the job) and has quickly identified the weaknesses in this United side both tactically and in terms of personnel.
We need at least one centre back, a defensive midfielder, maybe another striker and, should David de Gea leave, a new number one between the sticks.

Memphis Depay has already signed on the dotted line and Ilkay Gundogan looks a good bet to follow and with Dortmund's Mats Hummels staying put yet again, Valencia's centre-back Nicolas Otamendi is top of van Gaal's summer wish list.

The Reds simply had to get back into the Champions League for next season and having done that (provided we negotiate a potentially tricky two-legged play-off to reach the group stage), the next phase of the rebuilding process can begin.

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