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. […]

Youngsters stake a claim for number 10

Andreas Pereira, Adnan Januzaj

There is, it seems, something attractive about youngsters with a complex identity. In 2014 Adnan Januzaj settled, after no little debate in at least three countries, for a place with the Belgian national side. Januzaj burst onto the scene as one of the few players to emerge with genuine credit through the failed David Moyes […]

The curious case of Ilkay Gündoğan

Ilkay Gundogan

A few months ago it looked certain that Ilkay Gündoğan would be heading through the exit door at Signal Iduna Park and into the arms of the red half of Manchester. At one stage Sky Germany even reported a transfer done – pending a medical that never materialised. Soon the rash of media reports went cold and the story […]

Schweinsteiger adds new dimension to Van Gaal’s burgeoning squad

Bastian Schweinsteiger

Three transfers concluded, how many more to come this summer? Manchester United’s confirmation that Germany captain Bastian Schweinsteiger is to join from Bayern Munich adds to a growing sense of momentum at Old Trafford. The player may be creeping towards his 30s, but Schweinsteiger is legitimately one of the world’s finest central midfielders – and […]

Van Gaal builds from the back but cannot neglect United’s attacking front

Matteo Darmian

Manchester United’s impending capture of Torino right-back Matteo Darmian is the first in what could be three defensive acquisitions this summer; the Italian international may even join before Louis van Gaal’s squad leaves, next Monday, for a short tour of the United States. It is a sound purchase in a window that promises a more […]