Manchester United’s pre-season tour of USA drew to close with a 3-1 victory over fierce rivals Liverpool, clinching the International Champions Cup in the process. Goals from captain-for-the-night Wayne Rooney, Juan Mata and youngster Jesse Lingard gave new manager Louis Van Gaal his first taste of silverware since joining, after Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard’s penalty ensured the Reds went into the break in Miami with a one-goal lead.
The Red Devils ended the tour undefeated after comprehensively dismantling Los Angeles Galaxy 7-0 in their opening game, with further victories coming against Italian giants Roma and Inter Milan, newly-crowned European champions Real Madrid and old foes Liverpool.
The squad have had to adapt to a new philosophy and style of play since the former Ajax, Barcelona and Bayern Munich manager took the helm, with 3-5-2 becoming the brainchild of Van Gaal at the World Cup with the over-achieving Netherlands.
So, for many of the Manchester United players, the stateside tour was a chance for them to reinvent themselves, and prove to the new gaffer that they could play a part in the new regime. Here’s a look at five players who look likely to be discarded:
The diminutive Mexican striker is renowned for being a potent goal scorer, but after only 4 league goals last term, followed by a poor World Cup, the poacher looks set for pastures new.
The forward only started 6 games in the Premier League last season and, at 26, would be looking for regular first-team football, something not guaranteed under Van Gaal with Wayne Rooney, Robin Van Persie and Danny Welbeck above him in the pecking order.
Spanish champions Atletico Madrid and Italian sides Inter Milan and Juventus are known to be keen admirers.
Where do I begin with Nani? The Portuguese winger is about as hot and cold as any footballer could be. Always cited as the natural successor to Cristiano Ronaldo at Old Trafford, Nani has often failed to live up to the billing.
Just 22 appearances in the league over the past two seasons after being blighted with injury meant the former Sporting Lisbon academy product was already on the periphery when the new manager arrived, and a largely disappointing pre-season tour means the United hierarchy are likely to be ready to offload the £17million flop.
Nani, 27, is thought to have admirers in Italy.
It’s easy to forget that Anderson is still a Manchester United player but after he returned from a sub-standard loan spell at Italian side Fiorentina (who turned down their option to sign the player this summer), he wasn’t even part of the squad that toured the States.
With a salary is £80,000 per week, it’s not hard to see why Louis Van Gaal would think that money could be better spent elsewhere and the former Porto star (sure, let’s call him a ‘star’) looks likely to be one of the first players to squeeze through the revolving down out of Old Trafford.
Probably one of the more surprising names on this list but the Japanese star looks like one of the more dispensable players in the squad.
Kagawa himself has admitted he’s been disappointed that he’s been unable to replicate the form he showed at Borussia Dortmund since joining United, with Van Gaal stating his unhappiness at the “unbalance” with his squad, noting in particular that there is “too many number 10s”.
Casting glances from Atletico Madrid and AS Monaco means the schemer is in no way short of admirers, while Dortmund coach Jurgen Klopp consistently reminds the British press of his approbation for the player he originally brought to Westphalia (perhaps a makeweight in any potential deal for Mats Hummels?).
No surprises here as the Belgian brute has failed to live up to the £27.5million price tag former boss David Moyes splashed on him. The ex-Everton midfielder was frequently in and out of the side, while his position was constantly altered between being a holding anchor-man or a forward-thinking target man.
Either way, when now-assistant manager Ryan Giggs took charge at the tail end of last season, Fellaini was initially dropped from the squad altogether. Now, Van Gaal seems to be equally unimpressed, having given the green light for the Belgian’s move to Rafa Benitez-managed Napoli for a reported £15million, a huge loss for a single year.
With the Old Trafford revolving door soon to be in full motion, reinforcements are likely.
Juventus midfield linchpin Arturo Vidal, World Cup winning centre-back Mats Hummels, Arsenal captain Thomas Vermaelen and Fiorentina’s Colombian trickster Juan Cuadrado are believed to be on Van Gaal’s shopping list but one thing’s for certain; the Dutchman will leave no stone unturned when it comes to ridding his new Manchester United side of under-achievers.
By Neil Vincent - Manchester United fan - @