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You can't expect di Maria to transform United - van Gaal

By Agence France-Presse in London (China Daily) Updated: 2014-08-30 08:06

You can't expect di Maria to transform United - van Gaal

Dutchman says expensive recruit not going to solve all of team's problems

Louis van Gaal admits not even his record-breaking swoop for Angel di Maria will be enough to revive Manchester United immediately as the Argentina star prepares for his debut at Burnley on Saturday.

Van Gaal shattered the British transfer record with his 59.7 million pounds ($99 million) signing of di Maria from Real Madrid as he continued a major overhaul of United's underachieving squad.

Di Maria should get his first taste of the Premier League at some stage during United's trip to Turf Moor, but van Gaal is not expecting miracles from the midfielder despite his impressive pedigree.

United is still waiting for its first victory under van Gaal after losing to Swansea, drawing with Sunderland and then suffering an abject 4-0 defeat at League One minnow Milton Keynes Dons in midweek.

Although David Moyes' ill-fated reign left plenty of problems, van Gaal's poor start is still a surprise and, while the former Netherlands coach did not want to criticize his predecessors at Old Trafford, he made it clear the issues at United won't be solved by di Maria alone.

"That is looking at the past. That is a question that I don't want to answer. Why? Because I want to show my respect to David Moyes and Mr (Alex) Ferguson," van Gaal said when asked if he had been left with a poor squad.

"I think we have to look to the future and what we are doing now which is restoring and rebuilding a new team.

"That takes time and I am sorry to say that for the fans.

"We cannot expect after two days' training that di Maria is the miracle that I already read about.

"You have to work for the miracle. He has to adapt to the qualities of the team but also the team has to adapt to his qualities."

Di Maria won't be the only high-profile debutant this weekend as controversial bad-boy Mario Balotelli makes his return to the Premier League when his new club Liverpool travels to leader Tottenham.

Balotelli joined Brendan Rodgers' side from AC Milan for 16 million pounds after agreeing to a contract that will reward the Italian for good behavior.

The former Manchester City forward left England after three turbulent years marred by training ground fights, car crashes and a bizarre incident when he set fire to his bathroom while letting off fireworks.

But Reds boss Rodgers is confident he can get the best out of Balotelli, who watched from the stands when Liverpool lost 3-1 at City on Monday, but is expected to be involved at White Hart Lane.

"I am excited to work with him, he's a player of massive quality," Liverpool midfielder Joe Allen said.

"He has that spontaneous edge to him and it is a massive threat he's going to give us.

"We are disappointed with Monday's result but all of us are excited for the chance to put things right."

Chelsea has a 100 percent record but those wins came against newly-promoted Burnley and Leicester, making Saturday's trip to Everton the first serious test of the Blues' title credentials.

Jose Mourinho's side is likely to come up against one or both of its former strikers, Romelu Lukaku and Samuel Eto'o.

Lukaku, who hopes to recover from a toe injury, and Eto'o, who could make his debut after joining Everton this week, were allowed to leave Chelsea by Mourinho and Blues captain John Terry knows the old boys will be out for revenge.

"We've struggled away to Everton in the last couple of years," Terry said. "With that in mind we know it's going to be tough.

"Obviously big Rom (Lukaku) will be up front as well, with a point to prove - him being sold from the club.

"They are going to be up for it. It's a big test for us."

Champion City is also off to a 100 percent start and will expect to maintain its winning record at home to Stoke while Arsenal travel to Leicester on Sunday buoyed by its Champions League playoff victory over Besiktas in midweek.

Fixtures (1400GMT unless stated):

Saturday: Burnley vs Manchester Utd (1145GMT), Everton vs Chelsea (1630GMT), Manchester City vs Stoke, Newcastle vs Crystal Palace, QPR vs Sunderland, Swansea vs West Brom, West Ham vs Southampton.

Sunday: Aston Villa vs Hull (1230GMT), Leicester vs Arsenal (1500GMT), Tottenham vs Liverpool (1230GMT).

(China Daily 08/30/2014 page8)

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