Five Manchester United Stars Fighting for Old Trafford Futures
Louis van Gaal has officially been the Manchester United manager for less than a week and football fans across the globe are already fascinated to see how his Red Devils team will shape up in 2014/15.
The Dutchman’s appointment signals a new era in Manchester United history and, with the likes of Luke Shaw and Ander Herrera joining the cause, supporters of the Premier League giants will be praying that the 62-year-old can drag the club back to the summit of English football.
It’s been a huge summer of change at Old Trafford. In addition to the change of management, we’ve seen long-serving defenders Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic depart for QPR and Inter Milan, respectively. Meanwhile the retirement of record appearance-maker Ryan Giggs also draws a line under the previous generation and signals the birth of a new era under Van Gaal.
After a disastrous campaign in 2013/14, many of United’s stars are fighting for their futures at the club. Here is a list of the top five:
Agree with our selections? Post your lists in the comments below.
5. Javier Hernandez
"Chicharito" may be a fans' favourite at Old Trafford, but the Mexican striker needs a big season if he doesn’t want to be condemned to the scrap heap.
After hitting double figures in each of his first three seasons in England, the "little pea" managed just four Premier League strikes in 2013/14.
There has already been wide speculation that the 26-year-old may depart Old Trafford this summer, with La Gazzetta dello Sport (h/t Lewis Dean of International Business Times) suggesting that Serie A club Inter Milan could be potential suitors.
If he does remain in Manchester, this could be Hernandez’s final chance at cementing a prominent role within the Red Devils squad.
4. Ashley Young
Once heralded as one of the finest talents in English football, Ashley Young has slid down the pecking order for both club and country and is now seemingly holding on to his Old Trafford future by a thread.
The 29-year-old should be in his prime years but despite a promising start has struggled during his three seasons at Old Trafford, becoming more famous for his theatrics rather than performances.
Van Gaal’s appointment offers one last throw of the dice for the Stevenage-born winger. However, with West Ham United eyeing a potential loan move, per the Daily Mail’s Simon Jones, his day at Manchester United may already be numbered.
3. Tom Cleverley
The England man has largely failed with his bid to win over the Old Trafford crowd but there is still time for the 24-year-old to emerge as a key cog in the Manchester United machine. However, it is immensely important that the midfielder enjoys a more productive campaign in 2014/15.
Cleverley’s place is under severe threat following the summer acquisition of Herrera from Athletic Bilbao. With Michael Carrick missing through an ankle injury, per BBC Sport, there is an opportunity for the No. 23 to stake his claim for a regular starting berth and it is crucial that he seizes that opportunity with both hands.
The next few weeks could be critical to deciphering whether the Basingstoke-born midfielder has a future at the club.
2. Shinji Kagawa
Make no mistake; the Japanese star is a hugely talented footballer. However, we’re yet to see that on a regular basis since he traded Germany for England and the 25-year-old must use this new chapter to finally force his way into the heart of United’s midfield.
The former Dortmund playmaker boasts all the ingredients to be a key asset for Van Gaal’s side but faces competition from the likes of Juan Mata and possibly Wayne Rooney in his quest for the desired No.10 role.
Kagawa may have to settle for playing slightly out of position once more. He has so far failed to deliver when deployed out wide—that must change in 2014/15.
1. Marouane Fellaini
On transfer deadline day 2013, Marouane Fellaini became the first marquee signing of the ill-fated David Moyes era. For that reason alone, it could be difficult for the Belgian to ever succeed at Old Trafford.
The fact Moyes parted with £4 million more than he needed too, per the Mirror’s David McDonnell, suggests that the former United boss wasn’t entirely convinced and those apprehensions proved to be well founded as the summer signing made just 12 Premier League starts.
Fellaini failed to score a single goal in 2013/14 and one of the major problems facing the 26-year-old is that we’re still none the wiser as to where he would best fit into the Red Devils team.
After being voted as the Premier League’s "Flop of the Season" by the Guardian last term, this season offers one last opportunity for the Belgian to prove himself as being of the required standard to succeed at Old Trafford.
The arrival of Van Gaal affords Fellaini a new beginning, can he finally win over the Stretford End?