Fantasy Football Focus 2014/15: Manchester United

Manchester United Old Trafford 2

With the new season looming it's time to assess your fantasy football options. Today's focus will be on Manchester United.

The Red Devils endured a miserable campaign under David Moyes last time out and ended the season in seventh place - their worst ever finish in the Premier League era - and as a result will be without European football this season for the first time since 1989.

Things are looking a lot better ahead of the new season however, with new manager Louis Van Gaal making an immediate impact at the club as they have won every game of their difficult pre-season campaign so far and the absence of European football will only help them in the league, as Liverpool proved last year.

Because of their failings last season, several key United players come in at fairly generous prices and you should certainly be looking at investing in the team for fantasy football success this season, but where should you be looking?

Budget options

MID - Darren Fletcher - The Scottish midfielder made his long awaited return from illness last season and made 12 league appearances in the second-half of the campaign. Van Gaal has made Fletcher the captain twice this pre-season already and has been using him in the centre of midfield. With Michael Carrick expected to be out for some time, Fletcher is a cheap way into the United team. 

Worth a gamble

GK - David De Gea - The Spanish goalkeeper could benefit from the fact that Van Gaal is likely to play three centre-backs this season and they will certainly be tighter at the back than they were last season. De Gea kept 12 clean sheets last season and is improving with each season. If the team can shore up their defence once more, then De Gea should find his way into many fantasy teams.

DEF - Luke Shaw - Shaw has arrived for around £30 million, making him the most expensive teenager in the world and he will hope to backup the price the Red Devils forked out with some impressive performances down the left this season. Patrice Evra has moved on to join Juventus and Shaw looks set to be a regular at left wing-back, which only adds to his value. Van Gaal has made the former Saints star work on his fitness alone during their tour of America, and if Shaw can nail down a regular starting berth he will thrive. Clean sheets and assists will make Shaw one of the most attractive defensive options in the league.

MID - Ashley Young - The only competition Shaw looks likely to face is from Ashley Young and the Englishman has been excellent so far during pre-season. He only made 20 appearances last season in the Premier League, scoring two goals with one assist but has already bettered this record in just five games under Van Gaal. Young has scored three times with one more assist playing as a wing-back. He could be used on either side and he played on the right with Shaw on the left after Valencia went off injured in the 3-1 win against Liverpool.

MID - Ander Herrera - The Spanish midfielder has been brought in to inject some creativity into the United midfield and he could be a star at the club this season after a bright start to life under Van Gaal. Herrera has impressed during pre-season and has played in midfield alongside Fletcher for the majority of games. The only gamble here is whether he will be able to score enough from a fantasy perspective, though if he can pick up regular assists, he will be worth investing in.

FOR - Robin Van Persie - Van Persie scored 12 goals last season, 14 less than in his first season with the club as he struggled with injuries. He could be set to miss the opener against Swansea but if he can recapture his best form under Van Gaal and stay fit he will be walking into many fantasy teams. He scored four in six at the World Cup this summer and will likely start up front alongside Rooney as the Red Devils look to bounce back to the top of the Premier League. He is a very expensive option, but one that could prove a necessity.

Must-haves

MID - Juan Mata - The playmaker joined the club in January in a £37.1 million move from Chelsea and scored six goals with four assists in 15 league appearances. With the side likely to thrive once again this season, Mata could be in amongst the goals on a weekly basis as he is likely to play in "the hole" behind the two strikers. An advanced role will only add to his value and he comes in at a cheaper price (9.0) than the likes of Yaya Toure (11.0) and Eden Hazard (10.0) with the Premier League's official game.

FOR - Wayne Rooney - Rooney could be set for one of his best seasons in a United shirt as he is likely to be played as an out-and-out striker once again. The 28-year-old signed a huge contract extension last season and will be able to focus solely on United's Premier League campaign. He started the game against Liverpool in the International Champions Cup as captain and will hope to convince Van Gaal that he deserves to be the long-term captain of the side following Nemanja Vidic's departure. He has already scored four goals with one assist during pre-season and looks set for a big-scoring season.

Which Manchester United players will make your fantasy football team this season?

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