Man United Team Guide: Red Devils destined for silverware
Team Name: Manchester United
Manager: Louis van Gaal
Last Season: 7th
Who they’ve signed so far: Ander Herrera (Athletic Bilbao, £29m), Luke Shaw (Southampton £27m), Vanja Milinkovic (FK Vojvodina, undisclosed)
Out of the exit door: Ryan Giggs (retired), Patrice Evra (Juventus, £1.2m), Nemanja Vidic (Inter Milan, fee), Rio Ferdinand (QPR, free), Bebe (Benfica £2.4m), Alex Buttner (Dinamo Moscow, £4.4m), Federico Macheda (Cardiff, free), Louis Rowley (Leicester, free), Jack Barmby (Leicester, free), Charni Ekangamene (Zulte Waregem, undisclosed)
Star Man: Robin van Persie
Despite an injury-hit campaign last year Van Persie has still notched an impressive 48 goals in his 76 games for United so far.
While he only managed 18 last season the Dutchman looked back to his best for Holland in the World Cup and should benefit from an extended break before launching his third assault on the Premier League as a Red Devil.
New manager Louis van Gaal’s preference for 3-5-2 will see RVP able to link up with fellow striker Wayne Rooney more effectively, bringing the best out of the 31-year-old.
Under the Radar: Darren Fletcher
It may seem odd to tag a 30-year-old entering his 14th season as a United player as someone who is flying under the radar but after a long bout with illness many have forgotten how good a player Fletcher can be.
The Scot looked back to full fitness and was given the captain’s armband once during an impressive pre-season that saw him marshal the midfield, protect the back four and spray the ball about with ease to set up numerous United attacks.
Team Liability: Rafael da Silva
Having been at Old Trafford since 2008 Rafael should be more integral to the United side than he currently is.
Injuries and a hot head have limited the Brazilian to just 99 league appearances in six seasons and, while he is a force to be reckoned with when at the top of his game, these frequent spells on the sidelines render him an unreliable member of the squad.
Title Odds: 5 /1
Best Bet: Man United to win any trophy @ 6/4
Our Verdict: Pre-season schedules cannot be relied upon too much but Van Gaal appears to have rejuvenated United with five impressive wins over solid opposition.
The new formation may need defensive reinforcements but it will also mean that Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie can form a solid strike partnership and Juan Mata will be able to operate in his favoured position.
This should make United a potent attacking force and without the distractions of European football a domestic trophy of some description looks very likely.
All Odds and Markets correct as of the date of publishing
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