Former Manchester United manager David Moyes raised his head above the parapet at the most opportune time this weekend, as the Red Devils crashed to a first opening-day defeat at home in 42 years against Swansea.
Moyes described taking over from Sir Alex Ferguson as ‘near enough the impossible job’, and his successor Louis van Gaal will be thinking something similar after Swansea won at Old Trafford in the league for the first time courtesy of a 2-1 scoreline.
The rumour mill has ramped-up rather predictably regarding the Red Devils’ questionable transfer strategy, with massive-money moves for Serie A midfielder’s Arturo Vidal and Kevin Strootman mooted once more.
Van Gaal is also thought to be closing in on Real Madrid winger Angel Di Maria and Sporting Lisbon defender Marcos Rojo, although reports emanating out of Italy that United are considering a move for veteran AC Milan defender Philippe Mexes will make the Stretford End shake with fear.
Mexes is allegedly seen as an alternative to Roma’s Mehdi Benatia, who may now move to Bundesliga giants Bayern Munich before the transfer window closes.
A few more dire United performances between now and start of September could see the 13-time Premier League champions shopping in the bargain bin permanently, as Van Gaal’s boys currently look a terrible price at 8/15 to return to the top four by season’s end.
Starts for Tyler Blackett, Jesse Lingard, Darren Fletcher, Ashley Young and Javier Hernandez against Garry Monk’s modest operators suggest the ‘Iron Tulip’ needs at least five new players if his squad are to break into the highly-competitive Champions League qualifying spots this term.
It’s not all bad news for United fans. Ander Herrera was alive to everything during his 67 minutes on the pitch and the £30m Spanish midfielder will surely prove a superb foil for countryman Juan Mata.
Furthermore, Adnan Januzaj looked stronger and sharper than last season after coming on for the injured Lingard early on, with the Belgian forcing the corner that led to Wayne Rooney’s ultimately worthless equaliser.
However, that a Liverpool side clearly further along in its development are bigger, at 4/6, to retain a top-four place than their north-west rivals are for a return to the top table seems baffling.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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