Manchester United F.C. ready for Louis Van Gaal, but dangers present

Aug 08 2014, 14:35 IST
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SummarySerial winner Louis van Gaal at the helm of 20-times English champions Manchester United F.C. with a mission...

On paper it appears a match made in heaven. Serial winner Louis van Gaal at the helm of 20-times English champions Manchester United F.C. with a mission to steer the chastened giants back to the Premier League summit.

When United kick off the new season next Saturday lunchtime at home to Swansea City, however, reputations will count for precious little and if United are to confirm last season's horrors as a 'blip' they will have to do it the hard way.

Only the seriously blinkered and maybe Liverpool's most diehard fans would take issue with van Gaal's assertion that Manchester United are England's biggest club.

Plenty will have something to say, however, with any assumption that the wily tactician whose tough demeanour earned him the nickname the Iron Tulip, can provide an instant fix.

"I think what he'll find is the competition in this league will be different to any other league that he's worked in," Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers warned this week.

With champions Manchester City, big-spending Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool blocking United's path, Van Gaal faces the biggest test of his trophy-laden managerial career.

Last season's seventh-placed finish under David Moyes, their worst ever in the Premier League, was all the more galling as neighbours City clinched a second title in three seasons almost by default after Liverpool buckled and Chelsea shot themselves in the foot.

By their own standards City have been relatively restrained in the transfer market during the close season, partly because of a UEFA spending cap imposed for their failure to comply with Financial Fair Play guidelines.

Manuel Pellegrini has added extra quality to an already formidable ensemble, however, with right back Bacary Sagna joining from Arsenal, keeper Willy Caballero from Malaga and former Chelsea midfielder Frank Lampard arriving on a six-month loan from New York City FC.

Mourinho spent most of last season playing down Chelsea's title chances on his return to Stamford Bridge but the "underdog" tag will cut no ice this time.

CONFIDENT MOURINHO

With Diego Costa and Filipe Luis signed from Spanish champions Atletico Madrid and former Arsenal hero Cesc Fabregas snapped up from Barcelona, not to mention veteran striker and club hero Didier Drogba back in navy blue, the Portuguese will be expecting to bring the title back to west London for the first time since 2010.

"We are strong. I don't want to speak about the others because obviously the others are strong too. But we are going to be

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