5 Reasons Why Manchester United Will Win Silverware This Season
The start of the Premier League is here and Manchester United will look to have a much-improved season, after the disastrous tenure of David Moyes.
Louis van Gaal has started perfectly at United, with a 100 percent win record during pre-season, and he has now appointed Wayne Rooney as his captain for the campaign ahead.
So can the Red Devils buck the trend of the past 12 months and fight for silverware in 2014-15?
Here are five reasons why United can win a trophy this season:
The Move Away from 4-4-2
Manchester United's pre-season tour of the USA was our first chance to see Louis van Gaal's philosophy in action.
LvG has traditionally been a 4-3-3 man, but he used a highly successful version of 5-3-2 at the recent World Cup in Brazil, taking the Netherlands all the way to the semi-finals.
Famously, United have employed a variation of 4-4-2 for many years, with Sir Alex Ferguson cementing the tactic as his most famous formation.
And 4-4-2 brought United almost unlimited success from 1990 to 2013.
Twenty-three years is a long time to stick with a system—but it has been evident in recent times that the formation is now flawed—certainly United's version of it.
David Moyes tried desperately to play 4-4-2 during the 2013-14 season, but his insistence eventually saw him lose his job.
United needed a new philosophy, and this is one of the primary reasons the board chose Van Gaal.
5-3-2 is not the revolution that many believe—but it certainly is the evolution that the Red Devils have needed—since the day Ferguson retired.
The new system allows United to use their best players in their preferred positions, and ultimately this will mean that the team scores more goals and wins more games.
Certainly, there is still a risk to results if United do not replace Nemanja Vidic, Rio Ferdinand and Patrice Evra.
But Phil Jones, Jonny Evans and Chris Smalling all suit the new formation, allowing them to squeeze the play and carry the ball up the pitch, as both Jones and Evans like to do.
If United can carry the tactical improvements that we have witnessed in pre-season into the new campaign, they will most certainly compete at the top end of the table.
Louis van Gaal's Man Management
As well as having tactical issues, David Moyes appeared to not have the trust of the dressing room.
Here was a man who had won nothing during his managerial career, taking on the day-to-day running of a squad of players who are vastly decorated in terms of trophies won.
Louis van Gaal brings a managerial record to Manchester United that no player cannot respect, and this is half the battle for the Dutchman.
He has also just performed wonders on a global stage, as the planet witnessed the new United boss excel at the World Cup with a good—but not great—Netherlands team: A fact every United player will respect and be excited about.
We have already seen the Red Devils' less-than-likely squad players show a new level of form under LvG's command in pre-season.
Ashley Young appears to be a different player at wing-back, in a 5-3-2, and Ander Herrera looks like he has been in the United midfield for years.
Darren Fletcher and Tom Cleverley have also both seen improvements in their recent performance levels that you would never have expected under Moyes.
United still have a strong squad, and Van Gaal knows this. But if the team continues to respond positively to the coach's man-management, the rest of the Premier League may be surprised with the tune that LvG gets from what was a broken guitar.
United have been crying out for a truly mobile central midfielder for years, and Ander Herrera is the answer to that call.
The Spaniard has been brilliant for United during the tour of the USA, displaying an all-action style that has not been seen at Old Trafford for a very long time.
Herrera has the ability to sit deep and dictate the tempo or burst forward and become a No. 10. He is a technical player who also likes to put his foot in, where it hurts, and United will benefit hugely from his presence this season.
Van Gaal still needs a world-class midfielder to complement Herrera in the centre, but the team is closer to improvement than it was six months previous.
Herrera will give the team extra bite, and he should link up perfectly with Juan Mata in front of him.
A tighter and more technical midfield will immensely improve United's chances of winning a trophy.
A World-Class Attack
Robin van Persie, Wayne Rooney, Juan Mata, Danny Welbeck, Chicharito and Shinji Kagawa.
Which team in Europe would not want this attack through the centre?
Then there is James Wilson and Will Keane—two of England's great young hopes.
And also, a boy named Adnan Januzaj, who will wear Ryan Giggs' No. 11 shirt from this season.
Last year United did not create enough for the forwards, with a bunch of wingers who could not cross a ball and midfielders who had no idea how to create an assist.
This was the true issue behind United's fall from grace, coupled with a stagnant defence, ravaged by injury and old age.
If Louis van Gaal can bring the invention that he has displayed at previous clubs to support the wonderful attack already at his disposal, United will regularly beat opponents.
And with a reduced programme due to a lack of European football, United will not have to rotate as much as in previous seasons. This will help the team with consistency and form, and it will drive the Red Devils forward.
The Experience of Champions
There is one point many pundits are forgetting: The current United squad knows how to win titles.
The International Champions Cup win in the USA ultimately means little—but the matches were competitive—and United prevailed in style.
Last season, the playing staff were led by a back-room team that lacked the true quality to succeed.
The current United squad needs the acute leadership that all successful entities have, and now this is in place, the players' winning instincts should kick back in again.
The squad is filled with winners: A mixture of Premier League champions, and even a player who has won the World Cup. Yes, they failed last season as a collective, but there certainly were mitigating circumstances involved.
David Moyes has now gone, and the slate is clean. Louis van Gaal will create a culture of hunger, allowing the players who are in form to stake their claims. There will be no passengers in LvG's team.
The new environment will see the squad thrive once again, and they will have an opportunity to win silverware.
The realistic ambition is to make the top four, but Liverpool proved just how far a small squad can go in the Premier League.
And with a couple of good signings, United will not be far away from glory.