The 2013-14 season is over. For anyone following Manchester United, forget about it and let us move on. As the World Cup becomes everyone else’s biggest priority, the boardroom and players for Manchester United that will not be in Brazil are now shifting their focus to the next EPL run. Although the level that United have played at for years will demand that the Red Devils are challenging for the title, it feels as if their end-of-season goals for this new season should merely be the Champions League. So, without further ado, let us dive into what United need to do this summer.
First, we will set a goal for the 2012/13 champions: 3rd place. Sadly, City and Chelsea are only going to improve this summer and will enter the upcoming campaign without the idea of them dropping any spots in the table. The money available to United will be ridiculous and their ability to snag any player will be legitimate. To ask a new coach to take a 7th place group, combined with 4 or more new players in the starting 11, higher than third would be ludicrous. So, third is a GOAL…but it is certainly a lofty goal that only United could obtain one year removed from being so poor.
The coach issue needs to be resolved soon and, as far as we have been told, it should be set within the month of May. In order to recruit top talent, the big players will want to hear their new coach telling them that he will give them significant playing time. While Van Gaal definitely represents some serious craziness, he also represents success. At this point, however, it just feels like United need to settle on their man…whoever that may be.
Players that NEED to go – Well, we are not going to talk about the players that have already embraced the door. Nani either needs to be embraced or sold before his transfer value completely hits the bottom of the tank. For a large part of United’s squad, if a player is not going to embraced then they need to be sold. It is no longer time to have Chicharito, Kagawa, Welbeck, or Nani on the bench for any significant amount of time if they are within United’s plans. Sure, Welbeck got playing time, but it was mostly coming from the bench. It is time to either shelve projects and make some money off of them or fully embrace those players. If they are not going to play more than 15 games (full games) in the upcoming season, sell them to make room and money for incoming transfers.
Positions that NEED to be filled – The only spot where United seems to need absolutely ZERO change is between the sticks. In order to return to past glories, the Red Devils need two players for every single area of the pitch. Two defenders, two midfielders, and (depending on what RVP does after this summer) two strikers should be retrieved from the highest level of players for United. In each situation, it seems like United would benefit from bringing in one player with massive potential and youth on their side (i.e. Toni Kroos) and one player with proven pedigree and veteran experience (i.e. Xavi, just as an example). This is where United will need to have success in order to return to their lofty perch, and Tottenham has shown that spending a massive amount of money only works if it is done right.
The KEY to next season – Old Trafford. It is a no-brainer that United need their home to become the fortress that it has been for the entirety of Sir Alex’s reign. United’s away record is identical to EPL Champion Man City and third place Chelsea’s record, with their home form being a huge reason for their finish outside of the Europa League spots. You have to drop down to 10th place to see any team with more home losses on the season, and any return to former “Glory, Glory” will need to happen in the Theatre of Dreams.
Surprise boost – no European football. Look at Liverpool’s rise this season and the proof is right there. Not having to keep major European fixtures in mind when picking United’s starting 11 and allowing them to fully focus on the EPL will only benefit them. Yes, it will be tough on Red Devil fans not having any games to watch while their biggest rivals are performing on the biggest stage, but it will be a major benefit in the end.
Manchester United will hope that their success in 2014/15 will completely erase the memory of Moyes and the 13/14 debacle. Their success in the Champions League shows that there is still definite talent in this squad and the rumor of how much money will be spent this summer means that United will be impressive in their upcoming campaign. To doubt a major comeback by United would be serious folly, but their return to the summit seems a season or two away.
United goal finish: 3rd
Players purchased for more than $7.5 million: 5+
Players sold: 5+
New coach? Yes.
How long until Moyes has another job? End of June.