After one of the club’s most disastrous campaigns in recent memory, it’s only natural that Manchester United supporters are feeling a little apprehensive ahead of another summer of seismic change.
As expected, the focus has been almost squarely on the players that will come in to Old Trafford during the offseason, hoping to spearhead a Red Devils renaissance. United’s executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward has insisted the club is prepared to splash the cash in order to rejoin the elite, per Martyn Ziegler of The Independent:
The club's expectations - and you will see this reflected in the transfer market and what we have recently done from a managerial perspective - are absolutely to get back into the Champions League.
We will be active in the transfer market and deals will be done.
But with a host of players coming into the squad, there’ll be casualties and plenty of them. Both Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand have confirmed that they’ll be leaving the club this summer and a host of other big names look set to follow those two out of the Old Trafford exit door.
Louis van Gaal’s appointment as Manchester United boss looks imminent, per Mark Ogden of The Telegraph, and here are a trio of players that the Dutchman will offload as he plots United’s route back to the top.
Every team in the Premier League has a player that’s unpopular with the supporters, and at Manchester United it's Tom Cleverley.
The 24-year-old midfielder has endured a torrid season with both the Red Devils and the national team. He's struggled to nail down a place in the United squad, whilst England supporters famously set up an online petition to ban the player from being selected for the World Cup squad, such was his unpopularity.
He was subsequently omitted from Roy Hodgson’s 23-man selection and was once again the subject of much ridicule:
England fans react to the news that Tom Cleverley has been left out the World Cup squad pic.twitter.com/qOW6jOJ7x8— Silly Football (@SillyFootball) May 12, 2014
With just one year remaining on his contract, Cleverley will surely look for a fresh start elsewhere. Everton have been linked with a move for his services, with Roberto Martinez a big admirer of his talents after they worked together at Wigan, per Greg O’Keeffe of the Liverpool Echo:
There are only a few players in this country who have had the sort of education where they look as if they could have been brought up in Holland, Spain or France.
You wouldn’t get this in other countries, and I find it disappointing that he is being judged so aggressively when he has not even reached 200 games. Such a young player does not need that sort of scrutiny or pressure, but I am sure he will come through it and be even more motivated.
Everton are a club that could get the best out of Cleverley. Martinez knows the player well, he’d see plenty more minutes and his ability to keep the ball would see him thrive in the Toffees’ possession-based mantra. A cut-price deal can surely be struck over the coming weeks.
After arriving at Old Trafford in the summer of 2012, there was plenty expected of Shinji Kagawa.
Should Manchester United cash in on Kagawa?
A very impressive debut against Everton hiked expectations up even further, but the Japanese playmaker has struggled to make much of an impact since the first time he donned the United strip.
Having been in and out of the first XI during his United career, Kagawa has struggled to find any kind of rhythm and has toiled in the overwhelming majority of the games in which he has featured. Often shunted out to the flank, he’s looked incapable of adapting to the robust nature of the English game.
United’s capture of Juan Mata in the January window has pushed Kagawa even further down the pecking order and a player of his indisputable ability will surely be dissatisfied with sitting on the substitutes bench.
A return to Dortmund has been rumoured, per David Wright of The Express, and that’s a deal that’d certainly appeal to football romantics; Kagawa thrived at the Westfalenstadion under the tutelage of Jurgen Klopp prior to his move to England.
But with Mata, Wayne Rooney and even youngster Adnan Januzaj vying for the same spot in the United team, you suspect Kagawa would take a move just about anywhere at the moment if it meant regular first team football. After a season in the wilderness, a strong showing for Japan at the World Cup could remind some of the top clubs of his undoubted class.
The man known as Chicharito has an undeniable knack of scoring goals, but unfortunately for Javier Hernandez, that’s not enough when playing up front for a club like Manchester United.
The Mexican is a phenomenal poacher; he’s superb at finding space in the box and his razor-sharp reactions make him almost impossible for defenders to pick up. But in truth, his all-round game leaves much to be desired.
Hernandez isn’t capable of holding the ball up, bringing others into play or finding intricate passes in tight areas. He’s a prolific forward, but a limited one, and that’s why he is currently behind Rooney, Robin van Persie and Danny Welbeck in the race to start up-front for United.
Nonetheless, the Mexican has spoken of how he's looking forward to another season at Old Trafford, per Mediotiempo (h/t Andres Garavaglia of Sky Sports):
It's been a difficult season for us, we didn't get the results that we expected, but now we have to forget this and look forward. Next season will be important for us.
This club is special for me because it's the one that opened the doors to me for being in Europe for playing in the biggest team in the world.
Inter Milan are rumoured to be linked with a move for the 26-year-old, per La Gazzetta dello Sport (h/t John Payne of Metro), and a brand new start would surely suit Hernandez down to the ground. He’s a popular figure with the Manchester United faithful, but at this juncture, the Red Devils currently have a myriad of superior options in forward positions.