Manchester United: Report on Every Position Ahead of New Premier League Season

Rob DawsonManchester United CorrespondentAugust 13, 2014

Manchester United: Report on Every Position Ahead of New Premier League Season

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    Louis van Gaal inherited a Manchester United squad that finished seventh in the Premier League last season.

    David Moyes took his share of the blame. But the players played their part in a disappointing season.

    Van Gaal has found some very good players at Old Trafford, including Robin van Persie, Wayne Rooney and Juan Mata.

    But there are also weaknesses, especially in midfield and in defence.

    Here's a rundown of United's squad as they prepare to kick off their Premier League season with a game against Swansea City on Saturday.

Goalkeepers

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    Goalkeeper is one of the few areas Van Gaal doesn't have to worry about.

    David De Gea was United's best player last season. Older and more experienced, there's no reason why the Spaniard shouldn't get better and better.

    Still only 23 years old, he's got time on his side.

    Anders Lindegaard is an able deputy, although there are reports he could be set to leave.

    Ben Amos and Sam Johnstone provide more competition for De Gea. But both have plenty to do to prove they can step in if called upon.

    Grade: A

Defenders

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    The departures of Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand at the end of last season have left a hole in United's defence.

    Van Gaal still has Jonny Evans, Phil Jones and Chris Smalling. But that's not enough if he wants to play with a three-man defence next season.

    Tyler Blackett and Michael Keane are waiting in the wings should they need to step in. But both are still learning, and it's debatable whether either would cope with an extended run in the team.

    It's one of the areas where Van Gaal is desperately short of numbers as he heads into the new season.

    Grade: C

Wing-Backs

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    If Van Gaal wants to play with wing-backs next season, he has options. 

    Once Luke Shaw recovers from injury, it's likely he'll be first choice on the left. Antonio Valencia was preferred on the right during the summer tour of America. But he's also carrying an injury.

    Van Gaal converted Ashley Young over the summer, and he can fill in on the left or the right should he need to.

    Reece James impressed on the pre-season tour and started in the final warm-up game against Valencia at Old Trafford.

    But much like Blackett and Michael Keane, it's unlikely Van Gaal will want to rely too heavily on a 20-year-old who is yet to make a competitive appearance.

    Grade: B

Midfielders

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    The issue in United's midfield is nothing new.

    Not since 2008, when they had Own Hargreaves, Paul Scholes and Michael Carrick, have they had a midfield to rival the best in Europe.

    They've signed Ander Herrera from Athletic Bilbao ahead of the new season. But Carrick's ankle injury, which will keep him out until October, is a big blow.

    Van Gaal has played with two deep-lying midfielders throughout pre-season, choosing from Herrera, Darren Fletcher and Tom Cleverley.

    Marouane Fellaini is another option if he remains at Old Trafford for another year.

    But it's still a problem area for Van Gaal. And one the fans are hopeful he can strengthen before the transfer deadline.

    Grade: C

Forwards

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    Unlike some other areas of the team, Van Gaal can choose from some of the best forwards in the world.

    Provided they're fit, Robin van Persie, Wayne Rooney and Juan Mata will be the Dutchman's first-choice front three.

    There aren't many clubs who can boast better.

    They also have Danny Welbeck, Javier Hernandez, Shinji Kagawa, Adnan Januzaj, Nani and Wilfried Zaha in reserve. 

    If United struggle next season, it won't be the forwards who have let them down.

    Grade: A