Louis van Gaal will make his Old Trafford bow on Tuesday as he looks to make it a clean sweep of preseason victories when Spanish side Valencia visit the Theatre of Dreams. United came out on top in all five of their matches during their tour of the United States, and now Van Gaal will lead out the team for the first time at home in what is his final chance for fine tuning ahead of their first match of the Premier League season at home to Swansea City on Saturday.
While the results have been positive thus far as Van Gaal seeks to lead Manchester United back to the top of the table following their dramatic fall from grace under David Moyes last season, several questions remain over his squad. For several players, the match with Valencia could be a last chance to show that they have a future at Old Trafford. The likes of Javier Hernández, Nani, Wilfried Zaha, Shinji Kagawa and Marouane Fellaini have all been linked with an exit this summer. Fellaini has yet to feature in preseason after his run to the World Cup quarterfinals, and, along with fellow Belgian Adnan Januzaj and striker Robin van Persie, he may again be left out against Valencia.
“The players have to be fit and the first thing you can do is be fit,” he told MUTV. “I don't think they are fit after one week of training sessions. Surely not, when you compare it with players I have already trained.
“It is more difficult as they are not as the same level as the players we have trained already and have already played 45 minutes, 60 minutes or 90 minutes. So that is difficult. They came later, like Januzaj, Fellaini and Van Persie so it is difficult to start at the same level. So we have to adjust and that is difficult.”
The futures of some could depend on whether United are able to make signings ahead of the end of the transfer window at the end of August. Off the pitch there has been frustration for Van Gaal in the early days of his Manchester United tenure, with Ander Herrera and Luke Shaw still the only additions to his squad.
Valencia have been considerably more active in the transfer market this summer. After failing to qualify for Europe for the first time in 16 years, like United, Valencia changed their coach, with Portuguese Nuno Santo replacing Juan Antonio Pizzi. While Santo has lost the services of defenders Jérémy Mathieu and Juan Bernat, he has been able to bring in the likes of German World Cup winner Shkodran Mustafi from Sampdoria, as well as Portuguese midfielder André Gomes and former Spain Under-21 international forward Rodrigo, both from Benfica. It will be hoped that the new arrivals can help get Valencia back to Europe and the Champions League, a competition that they were regular qualifiers for when they could call upon talent like United’s Juan Mata.
“It will be very special for me tonight as Valencia is a city and a club that I will always have in my heart,” Mata said in Tuesday's official match-day program, reports the club’s official website. “I enjoyed a lot of great moments there and made many friends.
“I like to go back when I can as it's a city that I love, so I'm sure the game will be particularly emotional for me when seeing the players and the coaches as they were very, very good to me. I arrived there when I was 19 and was there for four very important years in my career. They helped me to grow as a player and as a person so I will always be grateful to Valencia -- the club and the city.”
Kickoff Time: 2.30 p.m. ET
TV Channel: ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes
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