Yes, Manchester United have signed four top-class players so far this summer, but manager Louis van Gaal has told them not to expect an automatic starting spot.
[ MORE: De Gea to stay at United? ]
On top of that, he’s also not taking his own position for granted, as the Dutchman has now spent over $320 million in transfer fees alone over the past 12 months and knows the Red Devils have to challenge for trophies in just his second season in charge of the Premier League club.
[ MORE: Di Maria’s future uncertain ]
Van Gaal, 63, has signed Memphis Depay, Matteo Darmian, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Morgan Schneiderlin so far this summer but speaking in Seattle ahead of the first match of their preseason campaign against Club America on Friday, van Gaal is laying down the law.
“In top sport, no position is ever secure in top sport,” van Gaal said. “Even my position is not secure. The players have to fight. Michael Carrick knows it because I told him at the end of the season. Morgan Schneiderlin has to fight with Bastian Schweinsteiger, Michael Carrick and Daley Blind. These are the players who can play in the centre of midfield. Matteo Darmian has to fight with Antonio Valencia (at right-back). He knows that but Valencia knows that also.”
So, there you have it. Increased competition, and depth, will be hugely important this season as United compete in the UEFA Champions League as well as trying to not only cement their spot in the top four of the PL but challenge the likes of Chelsea and Manchester City for the title.
United’s captain Wayne Rooney, speaking to MUTV during their preseason tour, is delighted to see the new guys arrive, and revealed he’s particularly excited to play alongside German national team captain Schweinsteiger.
“Bastian is a very experienced player who has won everything in the game and it’s great that he has chosen to join us and left a team like Bayern Munich to come here,” Rooney said “And Morgan as well – it’s great to see Bastian, him, Matteo and Memphis all come in and give the squad a boost. It’s exciting times and I’m sure over the next week or two it’ll be great for us to get some training sessions in and get to know each other’s games.
“Bastian speaks very good English so that’s a boost for the squad, too. He’s a fantastic player, he’s shown that over the years and it’s great that we’ve got him and I’m sure he’ll be a good player for us. We had the day we first flew out when we first met Bastian and Morgan and they’ve settled in as well as they can do in a couple of days. It’s great to have them with us.”
Many are expecting Schweinsteiger and Schnedierlin to form a central midfield partnership for United in a variation of a 4-2-3-1 formation, but as LVG said, don’t forget about Michael Carrick, Daley Blind, Juan Mata and Ander Herrera who all did good jobs at different stages of last season. Plus you have the likes of Angel di Maria, Ashley Young and Marouane Fellaini, Depay and Adnan Januzaj battling for the attacking midfield positions.
We heard about van Gaal’s ruthless streak earlier as he told Victor Valdes he would be sold after refusing to play in a reserve game and he also told Robin van Persie he’s United career was over during a round of golf.
As always, it’s all business from van Gaal, but is he running the risk of upsetting some of the more senior players at Old Trafford? Let’s wait and see what kind of reaction his continuously abrasive nature has on his squad.