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Tuesday 31 January 2023 Dublin: 8°C
youtube Wayne Rooney -- seen here in the club's new shirt ad -- will be central to any success.
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Five reasons why Manchester United can win the Premier League title
Can Van Gaal guide United from seventh to first?

AFTER AN AWFUL campaign last season United must bounce back this year and they certainly have the tools to do so.

There is a cautious optimism among United fans at the moment on the back of an impressive pre-season campaign that saw The Reds win five out of their four matches and claim the International Champions Cup after beating Liverpool in the final.

So can the squad that Louis Van Gaal has at his disposal bounce back after last season’s campaign and claim a 21st league title? We certainly think so and here are the five reasons why.

1. A manager that knows how to win

After replacing the most successful manager in British footballing history with a man who has a total of zero trophies during his managerial career United have realised their mistake and gone straight to the top of the managerial spectrum, placing their trust in Louis Van Gaal to pick up the pieces after David Moyes’ short reign at the helm. Van Gaal has won seven league titles in three different countries during his managerial career and recently led The Netherlands to third place in the World Cup.

The Dutchman is no stranger to the pressures of managing a big club and lay down a statement of intent in his first press conference saying: “I always think first place, not fourth.”

Van Gaal already looks comfortable in his new position and immediately set about making changes to the system at United. All players now eat together at the same time after training and rectangular tables have been replaced with circular ones to encourage team bonding. This will no doubt have a positive effect on the team, bringing the players closer together which, as we know, is an essential ingredient in winning titles.

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2. Rooney and Van Persie

Injuries to both players hampered United’s challenge last year as David Moyes only had the opportunity to pair the two up front on 16 occasions. It is vital that both players remain fit throughout the campaign as United are at their strongest when they play together up front with Juan Mata operating behind. Rooney has had a scintillating pre-season campaign scoring five goals in five games and looks to be playing with confidence. When he is at his best Rooney is without a doubt United’s best player and capable of carrying the team to victories, as seen on a few occasions last season.

Fellow striker Robin Van Persie has a close relationship with Van Gaal, having captained The Netherlands under him at the recent World Cup. David Moyes struggled to keep Van Persie happy last term but Van Gaal will have no such problem.

3. A point to prove after last season

Last season was an embarrassment for United and it is of paramount importance that they bounce back this year. The players will be hurt and ready to spring out of the blocks early and prove that they are good enough to win the league. United don’t face any of last season’s top four until 26th October giving them the opportunity to make a fast start and get points on the board before facing any title challengers.

Despite having lost the experience of Nemanja Vidic, Rio Ferdinand and Patrice Evra United still have a number of players that know how to win a title, Michael Carrick and Wayne Rooney to name two. Coupled with the fact that 13 time Premier League winner Ryan Giggs will assist Van Gaal United will know how to cope with the pressure situations.

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4. Juan Mata

Signed for £37.5 million halfway through last season Mata was rarely used in his best position, continually being played out on the left by Moyes. Played in a central role behind the strikers the Spaniard is one of the best playmakers in the league, a point proven by his assist record at Chelsea which saw him named as the club’s player of the year two years in a row.

Van Gaal has used Mata in the central role of a 3-4-1-2 formation all through pre-season where he has linked up well with Rooney. Mata only played 34 minutes for Spain during their dismal World Cup campaign, netting a goal in the meantime. This will mean that the former Valencia man will go into the new season fresh and ready to prove how good he really is.

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5. No European football

Last season’s seventh place finish for United means that they won’t be competing in any European competitions this season, something that will play to their advantage as the campaign progresses. Less games will allow United to focus solely on their domestic campaign while their title challengers will have to juggle midweek Champions League matches with weekend Premier League games.

This same factor proved pivotal in Liverpool’s title challenge last season and will be just as beneficial for United in the upcoming campaign.

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