The day United returned to the top

Written by Ben Blaschke

A few days after the release of former manager Alex Ferguson’s new book Leading – which tells the story of his inspirational journey at Old Trafford and the art of leadership – Louis Van Gaal led United back to the top of the Premier League for the first time proper since Fergie took them to the title in May 2013. On his way back to the tunnel after seeing his side demolish Sunderland 3-0, Van Gaal smiled and said to a security guard, “You are now the security guard of a club that is top of the league!” The joy of being back where they belong is ringing loudly in Manchester with the red half even more excited by the fact that they replaced none other than Manchester City in top spot.

The loss of Luke Shaw – who is unlikely to play again this season after breaking his leg – didn’t affect the Red Devils’ morale as they cruised past struggling Sunderland to record yet another regulation victory. After a busy summer, Van Gaal proudly announced that this United side was very much “balanced” and their summer transfers certainly look to have been spot on in every area. In attack, Memphis Depay and Anthony Martial look lethal and have quickly adapted to the physical side of English football. In the midfield, Morgan Schneiderlin is highly influential and has also played an important role in helping his French compatriot Martial with the language barrier. In the final third, David De Gea – who made a U-turn this summer to signed a new contract after previously pushing for a move to Real Madrid – looks as sharp as ever while the Italian Matteo Darmian is playing well in his debut season.

With smart recruitment at both ends, Manchester United looked energetic, balanced and once again a constant threat on goal. Even Wayne Rooney ended his 999 minute goal drought in the Sunderland game! Since taking over from David Moyes, Van Gaal has taken just over one season to put the pieces together and finish his masterful jigsaw. Many players have been shown the door with new faces coming in to replace them. The way Van Gaal has gelled them into a comprehensive unit so quickly is quite incredible. Indeed, some players such as Martial have even exceeded the manager’s expectations but Van Gaal deserves a lot of credit for making United a feared Premiership force once again.