Van Gaal could go with the defence he has

Chris Smalling

Two months into the summer 2015 transfer window and Louis Van Gaal has certainly strengthened Manchester United’s squad with a quintet of acquisitions. Matteo Darmian is a huge upgrade over Antonio Valencia at right-back and Memphis Depay adds flair and a sense of unpredictability to United’s forward line. Morgan Schneiderlin and the star of United’s transfer […]

United’s attack tested by Rooney’s impotence

Wayne Rooney

As statements go, Wayne Rooney’s performance under Aston Villa’s Friday night lights, said everything. Blowing hard by the end, in Manchester United’s second successive 1-0 victory, the Scouser looked far from match sharp. In truth the game passed Rooney by: second best to every ball, rarely involved in the visitors’ limp attack and one-paced when in possession. […]

The emancipation of Ashley Young

Ashley Young

The first game of the new Premier League season is history, and Manchester United fans everywhere are excited at the thought of Bastian Schweinsteiger roaring through the midfield, while Pedro reprises his attacking role from the Pep Guardiola years at Barcelona, running off the Lionel Messi incarnation-in-red that is Wayne Rooney. As expected in a […]

Season preview 2015/16

Louis van Gaal

In truth Louis van Gaal’s side achieved par and nothing more last season. It was a campaign of incessant tinkering and of flowing football morphed into pragmatic conservatism; of debilitating injuries and, in the end, Manchester United limping over the finishing line and into the Champions League. One year on from Van Gaal’s arrival at […]

Rafael leaves loved – and with a potential unfulfilled

Rafael da Silva

Picture the scene. Downtown Hong Kong, late July 2005. The mist rolls off Victoria Peak to shroud glass and concrete in a blanket of white-grey as it so often does in these parts. At one end of Hong Kong Football Club’s nondescript stadium, the glistening stands of the Jockey Club; the other, the sounds of […]

Meet Pedro, the man behind the curtain

Pedro Rodriguez

“If Pedro was Brazilian, he’d be called Pedrinho and we wouldn’t have enough money to afford him.” Former Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola had little but positivity for Pedro – full name Pedro Eliezer Rodriguez Ledesma – in 2011. It aptly sums up the Catalan winger’s career. Despite the Spanish international winning every trophy attainable before his 23rd birthday, […]

Tour poses new questions as the season looms

USA Tour 2015

In truth it has proven to be a mixed pre-season in the United States, although the manager departed the continent with an air of calm satisfaction. “Preparation time,” as Louis van Gaal call it, is traditional as a period of focus on fitness and match “rhythm” – not necessarily results. For Manchester United, with three victories and Thursday’s […]

Di Maria experiment fails, now comes the fallout

Angel Di Maria

In the end it was just four words that ended Angel di Maria’s time at Manchester United: Louis van Gaal’s curt assertion that he “does not know why” the Argentinian failed to board a plane to the United States on Saturday. Four words that will hasten Di Maria’s transfer to Paris Saint-Germain in the coming […]

Tracking the evolution in United’s midfield

Bastian Schweinsteiger Morgan Schneiderlin

11 February 2015. Manchester United beat Burnley with a 3-1 scoreline that flattered to deceive. It was a game in which Louis van Gaal deployed his captain, Wayne Rooney in a midfield holding role. Rooney featured in 14 games in midfield last season, with the Reds’ best striker largely wasted in the centre of the pitch. […]