Picking a Brilliant, Yet Entirely Realistic, Manchester United XI For 2015/16

Manchester United's executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward has been hailed as everything from "the lord of the transfer window" to "Sir Ed", the club's "saviour" and "the Wolf of Old Trafford" in recent days.

Woodward just landed United's "schmidfield" of Bastian Schweinsteiger and Morgan Schneiderlin. Those two joined the exhilarating talents of Memphis Depay, who signed from PSV, and Torino right-back Matteo Darmian. All four are locked, loaded and on tour in America.

Meanwhile, Nani and Robin van Persie have departed for Fenerbahce without too much upset - aside from that boy who cried about RvP, which was a small price for a ticket to Turkey. Thus far, United are winning the window and thoughts turn to who might yet arrive and how they might line up on opening day against Spurs.

Here follows a brilliant, yet entirely realistic Louis van Gaal XI for August 8, set out as a 4-3-3:


Goalkeeper: David De Gea

Manchester United v Arsenal - Premier League : News Photo

It really, really could happen, as a hero of Britpop once sang. De Gea's deal has a year left on it and Woodward is reportedly the man digging his heels in. Real Madrid could be put off by the buy-out clause, or maybe it's United saying they need to have Sergio Ramos, Gareth Bale, Ronaldo and £200 million in return.

Whatever the situation, there's a chance De Gea stays one more season and that might count as the best piece of business United do this summer.



Right-back: Matteo Darmian

Antonio Valencia did some good work on the right for United, but he's not a natural defender. Darmian comes straight into my team, blessed with all the attributes required and plenty of top-class experience playing this role.


Centre-back: Chris Smalling

It doesn't have to be all change at United. Smalling impressed last season and can continue his development providing he has an accomplished, experienced performer alongside him. His co-pilot needs to be a natural leader and somebody with bite.


Centre-back: Nicolas Otamendi


Enter Valencia's Nicolas Otamendi, who United are reportedly getting close to a deal for. The Argentine is a ferocious competitor, already likened to ex-United defender Nemanja Vidic, and would add a new level of security to the core of Van Gaal's team. He would also up the aggression and the intensity of all around him.


Left-back: Marcos Rojo

I like Rojo at left-back. He's combative, quick and a good distributor of the ball. Luke Shaw's time will come, but for now - on the back of an impressive Copa America - Rojo should be the man in possession. Playing alongside countryman Otamendi won't hurt either.


Holding midfield: Morgan Schneiderlin

The Frenchman is another to come straight into my team. A more dynamic version of Michael Carrick, he leaves the United stalwart on the bench and brings a genuine thrust in front of the back four. Capable of breaking down play and breaking play forward, Schneiderlin is a seriously exciting acquisition.


Central midfield right: Ander Herrera


Already endeared to the United faithful, Herrera gave himself a great platform for success last season. Full of energy and technically immaculate, he should link well with Schneiderlin and prove another tempo-setting element in this invigorated United lineup.


Central midfield left: Bastian Schweinsteiger

Solidity, composure, bite and more experience than vowels in his name, Schweinsteiger may be past his swashbuckling peak, but there is still plenty to offer from the World Cup-winning German international.



Left forward: Memphis Depay

Depay could be the man to get Old Trafford on its feet this season. There's no shortage of confidence where the Dutchman is concerned and he'll relish the expectancy of opening day. I would start him in his preferred position and ask that he attacks his marker at every opportunity.


Right forward: Edinson Cavani


Here's where I go bold. The suggestion is out there that United might exchange Angel Di Maria for Cavani. If that happens Van Gaal adds a strong runner with goal potential, physicality and a very different type of threat going forward. The idea of Cavani unleashed is what United's tradition is all about.


Striker: Wayne Rooney

The best option for Van Gaal in this role and a pretty decent one at that. Rooney was back close to his best last season and should be galvanised by both the arrivals at Old Trafford and a major international tournament to follow the season.


Subs bench: Juan Mata, Daley Blind, Michael Carrick, Jonny Evans, Antonio Valencia, James Wilson, Victor Valdes

Not a bad selection in waiting here, with options to cover pretty much all positions and some genuine game-changers on tap.


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