Team Profile: Manchester United
Sky Sports predicted finish: 2nd
Next five fixtures:
20th Jul vs A-League All Stars (a)
23rd Jul vs Yokohama F. Marinos (a)
26th Jul vs Cerezo Osaka (a)
29th Jul vs Kit Chee (a)
Manchester United will have spent the summer licking their wounds after losing out on the title on goal difference in the last minute to Manchester City. For an apparently 'average' United side to go so close will surely give them heart in the quest to regain their crown and there has been an upbeat vibe in pre-season. A 20th title will be expected and a vastly improved Champions League showing will be demanded. Robin van Persie could be just the tonic.
Sir Alex Ferguson's appetite for success is never sated and his transfer policy over the past couple of summers shows he is always building for the future. His pursuit of high-profile, big-money signings is an indication he is ready to rise to the challenge again. He has also vowed to learn the lessons from last season's early Champions League exit by not rotating his squad so much in the group phase, but he still has a great blend of youth and experience.
Key Ins and Outs
- Shinji Kagawa - £12m
- Nick Powell - £3m
- Ji-sung Park - £3m
- Michael Owen - free
- Fabio - loan
United captain's no-nonsense approach was sorely missed last season and was arguably the key reason why they lost out on the title to City on goal difference.
Top scorer last season and remains the man that United look to for inspiration. Will also be aiming to bounce back from a disappointing Euro 2012.
Started less than half of league games last season following the return of Danny Welbeck. Will hope a first full pre-season with United propels him back into the spotlight.
Last Match vs West Brom
Sunday 19th May 2013
Strengths & weaknesses
Man Utd's key strength remains an ability to be a threat from all angles - be it Antonio Valencia's direct running and crossing, Nani and Ashley Young's ability to score from distance, Danny Welbeck's movement to create space for others, Wayne Rooney's unpredictability or Javier Hernandez's predatory instincts. Van Persie and Shinji Kagawa will now add extra devilment. United are perhaps most vulnerable at full-back, where defensive deficiencies can be exposed, while there is a lack of 'legs' in the centre of midfield.
Shinji Kagawa's signing gives United an extra creative element and allows Ferguson to adopt a more fluid formation in games. Nick Powell is one for the future, but could be capable of the odd eye-catching cameo. The signing of Van Persie may not be essential, but will send out a powerful psychological message of United's ability to still attract top players. A new left-back is also expected, with Leighton Baines and Bryan Oviedo among those linked with a move.
What they say
Sir Alex Ferguson - "We want to recover the title. That's our priority No.1 - to win the title back. It will be special, but not more special than in previous years."
Antonio Valencia - "All the players are feeling good about the new season and there is a great team spirit amongst everyone. I'd love us to win all the competitions we play in, particularly the Premier League and Champions League."
- Rio Ferdinand - @rioferdy5
- Wayne Rooney - @WayneRooney
- Tom Cleverley - @tomclevz23
- Nani - @luisnani
- Antonio Valencia - @7AntoV
May 22nd, 2013 11:00pm
Transfer News - 22nd May
The latest Transfer news brought to you by Sky Sports News.
Facts and Figures
27Number of league goals scored by Rooney in 2011/12
18.9%Man Utd had the best shot conversion rate in 2011/12
16The Red Devils scored the most headed goals last season
77.9%David de Gea had the best saves-to-shots ratio in his first season
89Man Utd's points tally last season was the highest to never win the title
Shinji Kagawa will be a brilliant signing and if they get Robin van Persie they will have a formidable forward line, but that won't solve the main problem which is in midfield. They haven't strengthened for a while and came unstuck there last year. They went out in the first phase of the Champions League, didn't win any cups and got pipped in the Premier League, which isn't good enough for a club of Man Utd's stature.