With the new season only days away the friendly season has given us a chance to take a peek how the new squads are shaping up for opening day. United, like many Premier clubs, haven't changed their squad much in the close season with the only additions being 22 year olds Chris Smalling and Javier Hernandez. Sir Alex Ferguson ponied up $16 million for the pair making them relatively cost-effective signings in this day of post-Man City transfer-fee apocalypse.
Also featuring heavily this preseason have been the Da Silva twins, Darron Gibson and Tom Cleverley from United's youth ranks, players who are pushing towards the first team. It's an exciting time, if somewhat fraught, for the United faithful as they see their club attempt remodelling through a batch of young devils (we'll call them the Imps) rather than through large transfer sums.
This is happening for multiple and well-publicised reasons. The first is the question over whether Ferguson's spending money is still there given the club's enormous debt levels. Secondly, the manager has persistently said he's waiting for re-established post-apocalyptic transfer value (if so, why has he not bid for Mesut Oezil yet?) and thirdly because he thinks there is talent enough to be had from their academy.
He may be right. He may not be – he's been wrong before, even if no-one told him for fear of a long, lingering death by hair-dryer. In all likelihood all three factors have combined to force Sir Alex down this youthful path. But one can definitely say that United will compete for the title again this season, if not definitely winning it simply because Arsenal, City and occasionally Chelsea wil drop enough points to keep the race interesting. If the high octane youth and slow-burning experience blend well, they may accelerate United's 19th top-flight title win. If those three factors mean Fergie gets more and more angry, then at least the season will still be entertaining.