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No excuses for van Gaal’s United ahead of Spurs opener

07 Aug | BY Betway | MIN READ TIME |
No excuses for van Gaal’s United ahead of Spurs opener

Uncertainty surrounding David De Gea aside, Manchester United have bought well and will be confident of beating Tottenham at Old Trafford

Manchester United’s previous two summer transfer windows have resembled the ticking-clock plot of the Arnold Schwarzenegger-starring nineties Christmas film Jingle All The Way: a desperate chase of commercialism that was embarrassing for everyone involved.

But this year it has been different.

The four outfield signings – Memphis Depay, Matteo Darmian, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Morgan Schneiderlin – appear to be carefully-researched and helpfully joined in time for the club’s pre-season tour of the United States.

All fit the profile of what manager Louis van Gaal requires of his players – intelligent, versatile and comfortable in possession – and it is inconceivable they will not improve a squad that so often last season was imbalanced and sluggish.

The sale of Angel Di Maria weakens the squad, but only in theory. Like a misplaced winning lottery ticket, it is impossible to feel the loss of something that never really belonged to you in the first place.

United’s former No. 7 was just not the player who inspired Real Madrid to La Decima. He did not want to be at the club and, while the hastily-agreed transfer reflects badly on Ed Woodward, van Gaal and the player himself, it is best for all that he is gone.

There are, however, issues that will remain unresolved when Tottenham arrive at Old Trafford on Saturday lunchtime for the opening Premier League game of the season.

4/6 – Manchester United to beat Tottenham

While United’s bullish stance on Real’s aggressive pursuit of David De Gea has been admirable, it relies heavily on the goalkeeper maintaining his focus while also pining for a return to his native Spain.

The decision to not pick him for the Spurs match, therefore – new signing Sergio Romero or Sam Johnstone are vying to replace him – confirm the 24-year-old is struggling to do so.

United’s lack of a new centre-half – so far, anyway – is not as surprising as some might think. There just aren’t that many around who are of the requisite standard and, more importantly, attainable.

More puzzling, however, is van Gaal’s apparent determination to deploy Daley Blind in that position.

The Dutch international is a lovely footballer, but expect the idealistic tactical change to be abandoned not too long after Harry Kane – the striker United would love to sign – is able to run in behind and get him on the half-turn.

4/5 – Both teams to score

Much has been made of their shortage of strikers, but United should be fine in that department.

So often burdened by a toiling Radamel Falcao and Robin van Persie in the previous campaign, they should be liberated by an interchangeable front-line of Wayne Rooney, Memphis and Juan Mata, who all reached double figures last season.

The candid and expressive disposition of van Gaal this summer suggests he feels much more comfortable with his squad than at this stage last season.

If only his opposite number, Mauricio Pochettino, felt the same.

Pinching Toby Alderweireld away from Southampton represented a fine start to Spurs’ summer business, but there has been little to report since then.

More peculiar was Spurs’ participation in the Audi Cup on Wednesday night, which left them stranded in Munich after German authorities refused to sanction their early flight home.

Travelling to Manchester via a brief stop in London is hardly ideal when beginning the new domestic campaign – Pochettino even tried to get the match pushed back a day.

United, meanwhile, have trained at home all week after van Gaal kyboshed attempts from above to play a friendly that would model the club’s lucrative new adidas strip.

This is his team now and there can be no room for excuses. Progression – and silverware – is expected.

A win on Saturday – something he was unable to achieve on the opening day 12 months ago – would set the tone appropriately.

7/2 – Wayne Rooney to be first goalscorer

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