Disappointing Summer in Danger of Deflating Cautious Optimism at Man United

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Disappointing Summer in Danger of Deflating Cautious Optimism at Man United
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On the pitch, Louis van Gaal couldn't have asked for a better start to his reign as Manchester United manager.

It's easy to read too much into pre-season results. But it's better to win games against L.A. Galaxy, Roma, Inter Milan, Real Madrid and Liverpool than lose them.

Of all the new faces in the Premier League this season, Van Gaal has the potential to make the biggest impact.

His appointment has raised expectations at Old Trafford. Some fans are now looking for more than just a top-four finish.

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If nothing else, the Dutchman's arrival has lifted the mood after a dismal season under David Moyes.

But Van Gaal can't do it all on his own. And while he'll back himself to get the best out of the players he's inherited, the squad is still weak in key areas.

Panic grew among supporters last summer during what was a botched transfer window. And with only 20 days to go this time, they're starting to get anxious again.

United have spent nearly £60 million on Ander Herrera and Luke Shaw. But they desperately need another centre-half to fill the void left by Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand.

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They need another central midfielder, too. And Van Gaal has said he wants a winger.

But those aren't the final pieces of the puzzle. It's the minimum requirement. 

To head into a new season hoping to play three at the back with only three centre-halves—Jonny Evans, Phil Jones and Chris Smalling—could be disastrous.

With Michael Carrick ruled out until October with an ankle injury, the midfield is overly reliant on Darren Fletcher, who is still working his way back to full fitness after recovering from a serious bowel condition.

With no Champions League football, United are keen to trim their squad before September 1. But there is a pressing need to add more quality.

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United have three weeks to make sure the wave of optimism created by Van Gaal's arrival isn't undermined by another disappointing transfer window.

If they line up against QPR at Old Trafford on September 14 without further additions, there will be some fans fearing another tough season.

After Van Gaal's success at the World Cup, you can argue that, so far, Van Gaal has been the signing of the summer.

But he can't turn around United's fortunes by himself. Executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward has 20 days to give the new boss some help.

If it doesn't happen, the raised expectations that greeted Van Gaal's arrival will need to be re-evaluated.

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