As Manchester United embark on a new European journey after missing out on European football completely last season, we are left to face the question, how far can United progress this campaign?
Van Gaal himself appears unsure as to how good his team is, The Telegraph has reported him as saying “I think the fans shall see a Manchester United who fight for their chances, but we have to show on the pitch if we are able to win matches on the highest level,”. That is a a big statement from the United manager, as fans of this great European club always crave success and will really be expecting the team not just to qualify out of the group, but go on to seriously challenge for the ultimate prize in club football.
Gary Lineker seems to echo the thoughts of Van Gaal and has been quoted in the Mirror “Manchester United are in a big transition period. I think their fans might have to be patient for a while,”.
Manchester United will kick off their campaign with a visit to PSV and it will also mean an early return for Memphis Depay to his former club, following his summer transfer to Old Trafford. Depay will be keen to shine following a somewhat mixed start to his United career. He highlighted his great potential with his two goals in front of the Old Trafford faithful against Club Brugge in the qualifying tie, however, he has found the Premier League a much harder nut to crack and his removal at half time against Liverpool is testament to that fact.
Despite having youngsters such as Depay and Martial, Van Gaal also has the experience of Carrick, Rooney, when he returns from injury, and also in Bastain Schweinsteiger, a player that has won it all at German club level and is also a World Cup winner.
Van Gaal will be hoping by having the right mix of experience and young exuberance, his team can hopefully pull together and mount a real challenge. Despite their woes under Moyes in the Premier League, United did progress to the quarter finals where they lost to Bayern Munich and they will be hoping to go even further this time around.
United will be hoping that along with Depay finding form, the entire team can pull together and silence the detractors and show the manager they are up for the fight.