Why Manchester United must mount a Premier League title challenge next seasonby Jack Kitson / 15 July 2015, 09:59Tweet
There's no question about it, Manchester United simply have to mount Premier League title challenge in 2015/16, otherwise there will be serious repercussions for boss Louis van Gaal, especially if his troops fail to improve on last season's top-4 finish.
The Dutchman has once again been on a staggering spending spree, splurging serious wads of cash on the likes of Bastian Schweinsteiger, Morgan Schneiderlin, Memphis Depay, and Matteo Darmian so far, but you can bet your bottom dollar that United's transfer dealings are far from over.
Message of intent
Few clubs can match the titanic spending power of United, who have been on a mission this summer. After steering the Red Devils into the Champions League last season LVG has now been tasked with bringing the glory days back to Old Trafford, following a couple of barren seasons.
The 20-time English champions have fired out a message of intent so far this summer, bringing in a combination of youth and experience in midfield (Schweinsteiger & Schneiderlin), excitement in attack (Depay), while they've bolstered their defence through the acquisition of the versatile right-back Darmian.
Cracking blend of attack and defence
This week's dynamite double signing of Schweinsteiger and Schneiderlin is a fantastic piece of business for United. The midfield maestros bring with them a mixture of experience, immense quality, and hunger, while their defensive nature will allow the likes of Rooney, Depay, and Angel Di Maria to flourish in attack.
The main problem for LVG will be keeping all of his players happy, especially in midfield. The strength in depth means United can not only challenge for the title, but make waves in the Champions League, while they will no doubt be looking to go all the way in one of the domestic cup competitions.
However, LVG will have a hard task in keeping his band of superstars happy, as a few big names may have to get used to life on the bench.
Pressure is on LVG
Since arriving at United just over a year ago LVG has spent in excess of 200m, including 75m so far this summer. The club have trusted United to mould together a team capable of challenging for the title, and while this may take time, a slow start to the season will instantly pile on the pressure in the Premier League Sack Race.
Last season United endured a torrid start to LVG's first tenure in charge, picking up just 13 points from their opening 10 games, which included a 2-1 defeat at home to Swansea, and a shocking 5-3 collapse at Leicester.
In the end the Dutchman managed to steer the Red Devils to a top-4 finish, their pre-season target, but this time around he will be expected to storm out of the blocks.
United have been handed a tricky start at home to Tottenham, followed by matches against Aston Villa, Newcastle and Swansea, then Liverpool and Southampton.
With so many new faces the squad will take time to gel, but while supporters will be determined for their troops to explode out of the blocks, the main priority is to not drop silly points, as they did last season.
United look threatening, but Chelsea remain top dogs in the betting
Only once in Premier League history have the Red Devils gone three years without hoisting the famous trophy in the air - 2004-2006 - meaning another barren season in 2015/16 would see them match that unwanted trophyless streak.
All the talk at the moment is focused on United and their new-look team, however it's Chelsea who remain the team to beat. The Blues stormed to the Premier League title last year, leading for a record 274 days, while 2nd-placed Man City were merely a spot in the distance; 13 points behind.
In fact United aren't even the second or third favourites to life their first top-flight crown since the Sir Alex Ferguson era. Instead, City occupy second spot in the betting at 11/4, followed by Arsenal at 9/2, whereas United are priced at 5/1 with most bookmakers.