While many see Chelsea and Manchester City as the favourites to claim the Premier League title this season, Bolton Wanderers midfielder Stuart Holden has tipped Manchester United to pip both sides to the crown.
With new manager Louis van Gaal boasting a 100 per cent win record during pre-season, optimism is high at Old Tafford going into the 2014-15 campaign, despite Luke Shaw and Ander Herrera being the sole additions to a squad which finished in a disappointing seventh-place last season.
Nevertheless, Holden believes the Dutchman’s arrival will instil newfound discipline into a side which still boasts several core members of the 2012-13 title-winning team and, with the likes of Arturo Vidal, Angel Di Maria, Daley Blind, Juan Cuadrado and, most recently, Marco Rojo all reported transfer targets, the USA international thinks one or two more additions will give them the edge over their rivals.
‘I’m going to stick with Manchester United ,’ he told ESPN. ‘An unpopular pick, in many regards, but I keep going back to it and I see many of the players from the team who won the title two years ago.
‘And now, with van Gaal coming in to bring discipline into that group, while trimming the fat a little bit and bringing in new signings, I do think they’re really going to challenge.
‘You have Mata, who’s going to have his first full season, Rooney looks like he’s on form in pre-season, and then they brought in Herrera, who looks a really tidy player.
‘I just think that they’ll bring in one or two more pieces to solidify that team which has that winning mentality and is looking to bounce back from a tough season.’
Kicking off their season on Saturday against Swansea City, all eyes will be on van Gaal’s new-look side, with a fast start the first step towards exorcising the demons of 2013-14.
Can Manchester United compete for the title this season?