MANCHESTER, England (AP) — New Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal has been bequeathed a team in transition and lacking in self-belief after the club's worst Premier League season.
Here are five things that will likely be on the Dutchman's to-do list once he takes charge after the World Cup:
DEFINE UNITED'S IDENTITY
One of Europe's most bold, attacking and vibrant teams for much of Alex Ferguson's long reign, United completely lost its identity under David Moyes and became a soft touch.
Long balls, no pace to attacks and a lack of goals from midfield were the hallmarks of the Moyes era — and it was a turn-off for fans.
Van Gaal is committed to an attacking and entertaining style, with sharp passing, possession and pressing of opposition key to his philosophy. For that reason, he can be seen as creating the formula adopted by the current Barcelona and Bayern Munich teams.
This is one of the most critical summers in United's recent history. Van Gaal and vice chairman Ed Woodward cannot afford to blunder in the transfer market as the club did last year when Moyes acted late and indecisively, landing only Marouane Fellaini in the last few minutes of deadline day.
United has considerable sums to spend but isn't in the Champions League next season, making it a harder sell to the world's best players. United possibly needs four or five signings if the team is to challenge for the league title again next season.
United has been crying out for a top-class central midfielder with leadership and dynamism ever since the departure of Roy Keane in 2005.
They are rare breed and extremely difficult to find, but Van Gaal will desperately need one.
The current quartet of Fellaini, Michael Carrick, Darren Fletcher and Tom Cleverley lacks presence, movement or a goal threat — between them, they scored only twice in all competitions this season.
Van Gaal's game plan revolves around a passing game in midfield and that couldn't happen with the incumbents.
With Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand definitely leaving and Patrice Evra also likely to be on his way out, the defensive rocks United has relied on for the past decade will not be available for Van Gaal.
It leaves him a raw back four of Rafael da Silva, Phil Jones, Chris Smalling and Alexander Buttner. Jones — potentially a future England captain if played regularly at center back — may be the only one retained by the Dutchman, who will no doubt want ball-players at the back.
REVIVE HOME FORM
Old Trafford needs to return to being a fortress — the "Theatre of Dreams" has become a theater of nightmares.
United lost seven times at home in the Premier League this season, with Sunderland, Newcastle and West Bromwich Albion among the teams to come away with three points.
Swansea also won there in the FA Cup.
Visiting sides no longer fear coming to United — Van Gaal must change that.