Mark Ogden: Louis van Gaal will need to win the title next season to avoid going the same way as David Moyes
United may have lost on Saturday but prospects look a whole lot brighter than they did after the dismal defeat at Everton 12 months ago that led to David Moyes' sacking
A year ago on Monday, Manchester United suffered a 2-0 defeat at Everton which left the club marooned in seventh position in the Premier League, with hopes of Champions League qualification gone.
The loss at Goodison Park also signalled the end of David Moyes’s brief reign as United manager and sparked a period of uncertainty which lasted six weeks before Louis van Gaal was appointed as the Scot’s successor.
United lost again at the weekend, suffering a 1-0 defeat at Chelsea, but while the ramifications of the loss at Everton proved to be far-reaching, losing to Jose Mourinho’s champions-elect generated more positives than negatives for Van Gaal’s team.
Twelve months ago, United were going nowhere and in need of major surgery, but the confident manner of their performance at Chelsea without key players such as Michael Carrick and Daley Blind will raise optimism that a title challenge can be sustained next season.
Van Gaal’s United now have an identity, they play with certainty and, crucially, will be strengthened by major summer spending.
It means that, rather than be forced to play Wayne Rooney as an emergency central midfielder, Van Gaal will have the manpower to leave his captain to perform his favoured centre-forward role.
Teenagers Luke Shaw and Paddy McNair, who both shone at Chelsea, will be better and stronger next season too.
A year ago, United’s future appeared uncertain, but a turbulent twelve months has passed and their performance at Stamford Bridge suggested that the transition is over and nothing but the title will do next season.