Manchester United finished a disappointing seventh in the Premier League last season but are showing signs of recovery under Louis van Gaal. The Dutchman has a proven record of success during his illustrious career and has invested heavily to put the club back on track this season.
The Red Devils are viewed as outsiders for the title by many this year, with Manchester City and Chelsea seen as the big favourites, while Paddy Power will give you a free £20 bet when you open a new account and bet £10.
United made a stuttering start under the Dutchman, losing their opening match to Swansea and crashing out of the League 4-0 at the hands of the MK Dons. The 63-year-old wasted little time rebuilding the side with Danny Welbeck, Tom Cleverley, Patrice Evra and Shinji Kagawa all allowed to move on along with Javier Hernandez, Wilfried Zaha and Nani heading out on loan. Luke Shaw, Ander Herrera, Marcos Rojo and Daley Blind all arrived, meanwhile, along with marquee duo Angel Di Maria and Radamel Falcao.
The former Bayern Munich and Barcelona endured a difficult start, seeing his side surrender a 3-1 lead at Leicester City, falling to a shock 5-3 defeat to the newly promoted side. There is plenty of reasons to be optimistic if you are a United fan, however, with the controversial van Gaal arriving with a proven track record in Holland, Germany and Spain. The disciplinarian has won seven league titles throughout his career, including four Dutch titles (three with Ajax and one with AZ Alkmaar), two La Liga titles with Barcelona and one Bundesliga with Bayern Munich and he also led Holland to the semi-finals of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
In Di Maria, meanwhile, the club have acquired one of the best players in the world. The winger provided 17 assists in La Liga last season, more than both Messi and Ronaldo, while Falcao has netted over 150 goals in first 200 appearances in Europe during spells with Porto, Atletico Madrid and Monaco. The pair highlighted United’s magnificent pulling-power, despite missing out on Champions League football for the first time since 1996. That lack of European football could work in their advantage this year, however, just look at how well Liverpool performed in the league last season without having the hindrance of the Champions League football.
While their early League Cup exit has ensured no more unwelcome distractions and their interest in this year’s FA Cup may be similarly limited, allowing United to focus fully on a Premier League assault and the Red Devils were famous for finishing the season strongly under Sir Alex Ferguson – a similar trait under van Gaal could see United pull off an upset as Chelsea, City, Arsenal and Liverpool juggle their domestic and European campaigns. The Red Devils should head into the final months of the campaign feeling fresher than their rivals and those lack of midweek matches will allow van Gaal to prepare for each league game without any disturbance. They may be outsiders but it is perhaps too early to rule them out of the title race entirely.