In Depth

Man Utd demand third place after Van Gaal transfer spree

Next season's financial predictions are based on United finishing third in the Premier League

Louis van Gaal rolled the dice in the transfer window this summer, and now he must make sure his £150m gamble pays off after being told that Manchester United must finish in the top three this season.

The warning came from chief executive Ed Woodward as United announced their financial results for last season, which showed record revenues and a profits of almost £25m.

The figures proved United's "unquestioned fiscal firepower", says Rory Smith in The Times. "The cautionary note, though, appeared in the forecasts for next season's figures," he adds. They will be dented by Van Gaal's £150m spending spree and "will also be the first in the Glazer era not boosted by the riches on offer in the Champions League".

After David Moyes's disastrous reign, which saw United slip out of the top six in the Premier League, the club believes revenue next year will fall by almost £50m, with the figure dipping back below the £400m mark. However, those estimates, which have already caused dismay among some analysts, rely on the idea that Van Gaal can work at miracle at Old Trafford and propel the club back into the top three.

"Significantly," says Smith,  "Woodward admitted that forecast is based on the club finishing third in the Premier League and returning to the Champions League at the first time of asking."

Not only must he turn round the club's fortunes in spectacular fashion, Van Gaal "will have to do it without any major signings in January", reports the Daily Mail.

The United manager has put all his eggs in one basket by spending so much this summer as Woodward appeared to rule out any new signings in the new year. He told investors: "We don't intend to significantly increase capital expenditure [by buying players] in January."

Meanwhile, Van Gaal's assitant Ryan Giggs has insisted that despite the summer splurge, and the sale of players including Danny Welbeck, United remain committed to home-grown talent. He pointed out that Van Gaal had nurtured players like Patrick Kluivert, Andres Iniesta and Thomas Muller at his previous clubs, reports The Guardian.

Giggs told the Soccerex conference: "We've got to make sure that young players come through because United fans demand it. I want to see them come through as well. Fans never get on the backs of the young players if they make a mistake. They always encourage them. That has always been the history of Manchester United and we never want to lose that."

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