Manchester United travel to Turf Moor in the early weekend kickoff in what could be new signing Angel Di Maria’s debut for the club. The former Real Madrid midfielder became the club’s record signing, breaking the English transfer record when he signed for nearly £60 million in the week. The Argentine is the fifth most expensive footballer after James Rodriquez, Luis Suarez, Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale.
United’s new number seven would have been shocked to see his new team mates go down 4-0 to MK Dons in the week and will surely be included in the starting Xi as Louis van Gaal looks to pick up his first win as manager.
Newly promoted Burnley are also looking for their first win, having lost 3-1 to Chelsea in their first fixture of the season and losing 1-0 to Swansea City, who of course beat United 2-1 on the opening day. Sean Dyche has done a great job at the club and will be hoping for a repeat of the 1-0 victory over Manchester United in the late August of 2009. The two clubs have only played twice in the Premier League era and the last time, before 2009, that United traveled to Turf Moor was in the 1975/76 season where Lou Macari scored the winner.
1) What have you made of your opening two games so far?
Mixed bag really. We looked nervous against Chelsea, but they were always likely to be too good. Swansea was a lot more promising and we dominated the second half, but didn’t quite do enough to get a result.
2) Where do you expect to finish the season?
Somewhere in the bottom five, where will depend on if we can sign anyone good before the transfer window closes and whether Sean Dyche will stick around when jobs start coming up.
3) Is Sean Dyche the right man to lead you forward?
Undoubtedly. I had some doubts about him in his first half-season at Burnley, but they were all dealt with in style last season. He’s been very impressive. The only concern is his head gets turned by a bigger club with a larger budget in the middle of the season.
4) Who was your best player last season?
Hard to single out individuals when the team effort was so key to our success, but Sam Vokes was our most important player for me. We really missed his ability to dominate defenders and link the play when he got injured at the end of the season. Plenty of candidates though and you could make a case for 26 goals from Danny Ings, nine from surprise package Scott Arfield and skipper Jason Shackell, as well as a few others.
5) What have you made of Manchester United since Ferguson stepped down in May 2013?
A shambles. I’ve always liked David Moyes but with hindsight the job was too big for him. Ferguson has to take some share of the blame for a total lack of succession planning. Even though he won the title in his last year, the squad was in bad shape. I suppose that comes down to the Glazers not spending money too. LVG is an interesting shout, but his ideas will take a while to bed in, especially the formation change, and we might be seeing United drift away from the top table just like Liverpool did after their dominance in the 80s.
6) What are your thoughts on the signing of Angel Di Maria?
Seriously good player, but probably overpriced and I don’t know where you’re going to play him. He played in a midfield three a lot last season, but that doesn’t seem to fit into the 3-5-2 system and there’s no wingers in that shape either. He’s good, but is he good enough to change formation for? Not sure.
7) Do you think too much was made of the 4-0 defeat to MK Dons considering the lineup? Or should Louis van Gaal be criticism for not taking the competition seriously?
I can’t see why LVG played such a weak team when you don’t have European football clogging up your schedule. It also seemed like a good opportunity to get some much-needed confidence. But when you’ve got Jonny Evans – supposedly your best defenders – giving goals away you’re going to be in trouble anyway.
8) If you were United manager, which players would be out the door?
Anderson for starters – can’t believe he’s still a United player. Tom Cleverley isn’t good enough, Nani and Ashley Young aren’t either. Chris Smalling will never be a top class defender. Maybe Shinji Kagawa and Marouane Fellaini too, they’ve rarely looked Unted class.
9) You beat Manchester United in late August 2009, can history repeat itself?
If United play as badly as they have in their three games so far, we have every chance. But we’ll need to press ferociously as MK Dons did to force mistakes from the defence. Sounds bizarre to say it of a team featuring Robin van Persie, Juan Mata, Wayne Rooney and Angel di Maria, but your attack doesn’t scare me that much.
10) Who will win the title? Who will go down and will United make the top four?Tipped Chelsea before the season and can’t see past them, though City have got another rock hard Champions League group so they could be “focusing on the league” early again. Hard to see United in the top four when you’d expect Arsenal to be in there and you’ve got Liverpool, Spurs and Everton all going for a space as well. Going down – Palace after getting rid of Tony Pulis, QPR unless they bin off Harry Redknapp sharpish and probably us.