Former United striker Deiniol Graham is pleased with the progress the club have made this season and thinks the team are capable of challenging for the title next term.
Deiniol gives his verdict on what has been a largely productive first season in charge for Louis Van Gaal at Manchester United: “It was obviously a big change, the manager’s come in with his philosophy which took a while to get going but he’s sparked an amazing turnaround. He’s brought a few players in but even in games that we haven’t won we’ve still dominated possession which is a massive improvement on last year just in itself.”
Radamel Falcao has already left the club this summer after it emerged that United wouldn’t be making his loan permanent. Deiniol thinks that the reason for his lack of success at Old Trafford was the injury he suffered before joining the club and not being able to get a prolonged run of games in the team to get back into form: “When he came he had missed a lot of football and the World Cup last summer, when you come back from an injury like that it’s very hard.
“He couldn’t get a run of games because of the form of the team and I felt sorry for him. He’s a class player and he will get it back he just needs games.”
Once a promising young striker himself at the club, Graham has more idea than most of what it is like to be in the shoes of James Wilson and admits he would have liked to see the youngster used more often this season: “I wanted to see more of him and I thought he would have had more of a chance. He gives United another dimension with his pace and I thought they would have used that more in certain games.
“I hope that he doesn’t get despondent with his lack of opportunities and want to go somewhere else. I think next year they’ve really got to start pushing him on.”
It has been rumoured that Robin van Persie could follow Falcao out of the Old Trafford exit door this summer after a patchy season and declaring that he wants to play every week, meaning United will be in the market for at least one striker this summer: “I do think we’ve probably had the best out of Robin van Persie when he won us the title in 2013. He’s had quite a few injuries and there’s no continuity there really.
“I think United need to look towards the younger type of player now, we’ve got Rooney up there but we definitely need one more centre-forward but who I just don’t know. There’s so many names being put about, they’re talking about Higuaín now at Napoli who has a very good goalscoring record so maybe somebody like him.”
Deiniol also thinks signing a centre-back should be a priority: “We need somebody at the back, Jones and Smalling are good lads but Jones’s development hasn’t really come on in the years we’ve had him, he’s gone into a bit of a stalemate and with Smalling you get good and bad spells.
“I just don’t think that they’re safe playing in the formation that the manager wants to play, they don’t look comfortable and they’re not the best at being able to pass the ball and being comfortable on it. We need another Rio Ferdinand basically.”
Right-back is another position that needs resolving this summer with Louis Van Gaal seemingly not convinced by Rafael and Deiniol says: “I’m quite shocked about that really because if he wants to play three at the back Rafael at right wing-back would give us quite a lot going forward. Sometimes we don’t know what goes on behind the scenes so whether there’s something else or not I don’t know.”
Asked whether United can challenge for the title next season if they make the right signings this summer Deiniol says: “Definitely, look at the game against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. Alright they beat us but we deserved something out of the game. If we can be a little more dynamic up front and rather than having 70% possession get it into Rooney a bit quicker. Get the ball up the field a bit quicker and play on the break, get Di Maria moving, we’ve got to start using him.
“Another name being bandied about is Gareth Bale, if we could get him in with his pace and power we’d have something very dynamic at the front, we just need a bit of pace really.”