Manchester United hoping the only way is up under Louis Van Gaal

Aug 14 2014, 11:07 IST
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SummaryManchester United's rehabilitation under Louis van Gaal begins in earnest on Saturday when they kick off the new Premier League season at home to Swansea City.

Manchester United's pre-season performances have been encouraging but rehabilitation under new manager Louis van Gaal begins in earnest on Saturday when they kick off the new Premier League season at home to Swansea City.

Dutchman Van Gaal, whose managerial haul includes league titles in the Netherlands, Spain and Germany, faces arguably his toughest task to date in restoring United quickly back to the top of English football's pecking order.

United's 20th league title in Alex Ferguson's farewell season was followed by a slump to seventh - their worst showing in recent years as Ferguson's successor David Moyes found himself horribly out of his depth.

The only way is up, it seems, under van Gaal, though how fast and how high depends on him quickly implementing his own style on a squad that still looks thin on a quality in several areas despite 56 million pounds ($93.52 million) of spending.

A home lunchtime clash with Swansea, starting their fourth season in the Premier League with long-serving defender Gary Monk now in charge, should give United temporary leadership of the table although champions Manchester City and Chelsea will be determined to put down early markers away from home.

City face Newcastle United on Sunday while Chelsea, with a parade of new signings including Cesc Fabregas and Diego Costa, have to wait until Monday to launch their assault on a first league title since 2009-10 away to promoted Burnley.

Like Van Gaal and Costa, Chile striker Alexis Sanchez will also get his first taste of the Premier League as Arsenal begin with a Saturday evening London derby against Crystal Palace.

Liverpool, runners-up last season, begin life after striker Luis Suarez at home to Southampton from whom they signed Rickie Lambert, Adam Lallana and Dejan Lovren with a chunk of the cash they received from Barcelona for the controversial Uruguayan.

Tottenham Hotspur begin yet another 'new chapter' at West Ham United with former Southampton boss Mauricio Pocchetino in charge while Everton, unlucky to miss a top-four spot last season having gleaned 72 points, visit promoted Leicester City.

United enjoyed wins against European champions Real Madrid and Liverpool during their north American tour and added a 2-1 victory against Valencia on Tuesday in their final warm-up fixture, after which striker Wayne Rooney was named as the club's new captain in the wake of Nemanja Vidic's departure.

QUICK FEET

With the onus on Rooney and fellow forward Robin van Persie to score the goals, United's lack of

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