Louis van Gaal's Use of Rooney, Van Persie and Mata Vital for Manchester United

Rob DawsonManchester United CorrespondentAugust 22, 2014

LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 22:  Robin Van Persie of Manchester United celebrates the first goal during with Wayne Rooney during the Barclays Premier League match between Crystal Palace and Manchester United at Selhurst Park on February 22, 2014 in London, England.  (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

We were promised a new era at Manchester United this season.

We were given a new manager, the hope of new players and a new season to wash away the disappointment of the last one.

But it's taking a little longer to get going than many had hoped. 

With 10 days to go before the deadline, this summer's transfer business still feels underwhelming. And the season has already started with a home defeat to Swansea City

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - AUGUST 16:  Wayne Rooney of Manchester United looks on with team-mate Ashley Young (L) during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and Swansea City at Old Trafford on August 16, 2014 in Manchester, England.  (P
Alex Livesey/Getty Images

It was a reminder that Louis van Gaal's appointment hasn't solved everything.

There is still time for Van Gaal and executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward to bring in more new faces.

They still look short in midfield, and Van Gaal has gone on record, per a report by David Lynch of the Manchester Evening News, about his desire to secure a top-class winger.

But there's no guarantee. 

It's easy to forget during a summer of speculation that Van Gaal inherited some very good players, too. 

FORTALEZA, BRAZIL - JUNE 28:  Louis van Gaal, manager of Netherlands talks with Robin van Persie during the Netherlands training session at the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil held at Estadio Presidente Vargas on June 28, 2014 in Fortaleza, Brazil.  (Photo by
Robert Cianflone/Getty Images

And against Sunderland on Sunday, there is the prospect that three of the best—Wayne Rooney, Robin van Persie and Juan Mata—will be named in the same team for the first time this season.

Last season, the trio started together just six times. Of those six, United won just twice, defeating Crystal Palace and West Bromwich Albion. But that was under David Moyes.

The benefit of Van Gaal's 5-3-2 is that Rooney, Van Persie and Mata will all get the chance to play in their best positions. 

It was designed to get the best out of Van Persie, Arjen Robben and Wesley Sneijder during the World Cup.

United's squad has obvious weaknesses. But they have three of the best forwards in the Premier League. 

DENVER, CO - JULY 26: Wayne Rooney #10 of Manchester United celebrates his second goal with Juan Mata #8 during the first half of an International Champions Cup match against AS Roma at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on July 26, 2014 in Denver, Color
Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

Getting them all playing well, scoring and making goals, is more important to United's chances this season than anything that might happen in the final days of the transfer window.

United fans haven't yet seen the best of Rooney, Van Persie and Mata since the Spaniard arrived from Chelsea for a club-record fee in January.

Van Persie missed almost all of the second half of the season with a knee injury. Mata, meanwhile, spent it being shoehorned into a wide role that he wasn't used to.

But Van Gaal has spent the summer trialling a system built around all three. Rooney and Van Persie can play as central strikers; Mata is accommodated in the hole behind.

Sunday at the Stadium of Light will offer the Dutchman the first chance to see it in action.

And maybe then the new era can finally begin.