2015 featured the demotion to the Europa league and a terrible losing streak to end the year –not really quite the year that Manchester United fans were hoping for. But looking forward to the future, the Old Trafford faithful will be hoping that things take a turn for the better.
After the ignominy of crashing out of the UEFA Champions League and losing in succession to Wolfsburg, Bournemouth, Norwich City and Stoke City, Manchester United ended the year with a few brief sparks of hope in the final game against Chelsea, which again concluded with the all too familiar scoreline of 0-0. The fans will be hoping for a better 2016 and here are the 4 foremost wishes of a Manchester United fan for 2016.
1. Rooney Returns To Form
Wayne Rooney is halfway through one of the worst seasons in his career that has seen him come under heavy criticism. The Manchester United captain has scored just 4 goals in the Premier League and Champions League combined, and has hardly been an influential player for the team so far. There are many suggesting that he is past his prime as a player, but he gave everyone a brief glimpse of his skill with that magnificent back-heeled goal against Swansea City.
While many of the fans are clamouring for his exit, Rooney has always had a special place at the club since arriving from Everton as a fresh faced 18-year-old English talent in 2004. He’s the second highest goal-scorer for the club behind Sir Bobby Charlton, and is one of the last survivors of Sir Alex Ferguson’s much beloved Manchester United team, being one of the few who survived the squad overhauls after Sir Alex’ retirement.
Though there is no doubt that Rooney will go down in history as a club legend, at the age of 30, he still has a lot to offer to the club and fans will be hoping he can get back to showcasing his talent on a regular basis.
2. Louis van Gaal out, Ryan Giggs in
Louis van Gaal has not made himself a popular figure at Old Trafford with his football philosophy, absurd post-match interviews, fall-out with players and staunch disciplinarian attitude. The lack of exciting football under the Dutchman has disappointed the fans, players, management and even sponsors. Barring a run of excellent results in the beginning of 2016, one would think that Van Gaal is on borrowed time.
While there is widespread talk of various experienced managers like Pep Guardiola and Jose Mourinho being slated to take on the job, nothing would delight the Manchester United fans more than seeing club legend and current assistant manager Ryan Giggs take on the managerial role at Old Trafford. Although he doesn’t have experience as a manager, Giggs has been an understudy to both David Moyes and Van Gaal, and has the ‘Manchester United way’ ingrained in him. He was also an integral part of the Sir Alex Ferguson sides that brought glory to the club in the Premier League and Europe in more than two decades of dominance. Much like Zinedine Zidane at Real Madrid, his appointment would be hailed with a rousing welcome by fans.
3. A good partner at centre-back for Chris Smalling
Chris Smalling has been exceptional at centre-back for Manchester United this season and the Englishman was probably the primary reason why the Red Devils boasted of the best defensive record 4 months into the season, only to be totally dismantled after Smalling’s injury.
Smalling blocks a shot on goal every other game and has 5.3 clearances and 2.4 interceptions per game according to whoscored.com, which is quite impressive. But the only reason the Manchester United defence isn’t doing so well is because Smalling can’t do it all by himself. Daley Blind is not strong enough to be the ideal centre-back, while Phil Jones is error prone and this poses a huge problem for The Red Devils.
The perfect partner for Smalling would be Evertonian defender John Stones, who is currently a much sought after player. He would come at a hefty price, but given United’s financial clout these days, Stones would be one of the best signings they can make this year.
4. Don’t let De Gea go
The only bright spot of Manchester United’s lacklustre campaign has been the high-flying Spaniard David de Gea, who has been imperious in front of goal. If it weren’t for him, the Red Devils would be much further down the table as De Gea has exhibited his shot-stopping skills, quick reflexes and general goalkeeping prowess in crunch situations again and again for the team.
After the whole fiasco with the Real Madrid transfer last summer, De Gea signed a new 4-year deal earlier this season, but it has not been confirmed or denied whether there is a release clause in the region of 35-40 million pounds mentioned somewhere in the contract. If this were to be the case, then Real Madrid could well be on their way back to snap up the player.
It is absolutely essential that Manchester United keep a hold of De Gea, who is one of the brightest young goalkeepers in the world, and is slowly building a case from himself to be placed on the elite level alongside Manuel Neuer and Gianluigi Buffon. The club needs to convince the Spaniard to stay and Manchester United fans will be wishing that their talisman continues to astound at the Theatre of Dreams.