Wayne Rooney
Wayne Rooney will be United's main man this season Getty

Last season

Premier League: 7th

FA Cup: Third round

League Cup: Semi finals

Top scorer: Wayne Rooney (19)

Summer's work

It is ironic, despite everything that has been written of David Moyes after the Scot's doomed reign at United, that Louis van Gaal's first signings were players earmarked by his predecessor. Luke Shaw and Ander Herrera - signed for a combined total of nearly £60m from Southampton and Athletic Bilbao respectively - are so far the sum efforts of Ed Woodward's summer endeavours. At a time when the spotlight is on the chief executive and van Gaal to replace the departed Nemanja Vidic, Rio Ferdinand, Patrice Evra - not to mention the retired Ryan Giggs - that simply is not enough for a side that crumbled last season to seventh place and is in need of an urgent overhaul. United need at least one central defender, a dynamic midfielder and probably a winger before they can become serious title contenders.

Manager – Louis van Gaal

Louis van Gaal has won trophies wherever he has been. And he'll tell you as much. Since arriving in Manchester from the World Cup, the Dutchman has stamped his authority all over United. If he wasn't ordering Old Trafford-sized training pitches at Carrington or filming his players' training, he was busy tearing up United's formation and installing a Dutch-looking 3-5-2 formation. One thing that has set him apart from Moyes is the air of authority he possess, one that has recalibrated the power in the Old Trafford changing room. If he can get the best out of compatriot Robin van Persie, he would already have succeeded where Moyes failed.

Key player – Wayne Rooney

An obvious choice, perhaps, but United are a different side when Rooney is in it and struggle without their talismanic - if not with a couple of nomadic tendencies - number 10. The 28-year-old endured a typically futile international tournament for England at the World Cup but has come back with the intention of showing van Gaal who the man at Old Trafford really is and has looked sharp and focused. His agitations to leave Old Trafford mean Rooney will never be another Captain Marvel in the eyes of some fans, but van Gaal's decision to make him his leader could be the encouragement he needs to turn back the clocks and inspire United to a top four finish.


Without any European football, United can launch an assault on domestic fronts, with priority going to finishing in the top four. Luke Shaw and Ander Herrera are decent signings if not the marque ones the United faithful may have expected given the club's plethora of sponsorships. As it stands and with van Gaal in charge, a Champions League spot should be theirs come 2015/16. But if United sign a defender - a move for Sporting Lisbon's Marcos Rojo is on the cards - and break the bank to land speculative targets Angel Di Maria and Arturo Vidal, all bets are off and United could go all the way.

Prediction – 5th

Champions League football returns to Old Trafford as United regain their attacking flare but are let down by holes in their defence.