The headlines during the build-up to the 2014 FIFA World Cup were dominated by the number of absent high profile stars, those failing to recover from injury in-time to compete in what many consider to be the pinnacle of their playing career.
While Van Gaal tends to do well when he takes over at a new club, teams found a way to counter his system at the World Cup. Provided United do not lure the opposition into a false sense of security in matches next season, the Dutch tactician may have to endure a rocky start in Manchester when the campaign kicks off next month before finding his feet in England.
Though they ended the previous campaign extremely poorly, Newcastle have made significant strides in the transfer market to ensure that they are not in a similar situation again. They appear to have learned from their mistakes to a degree and their eagerness in the window this time around should reap the rewards.
For £6m, the signing of Caballero is an astute piece of business for a player who has the potential to leapfrog Hart as the Citizens' number one. The team needs strength in reserve and a goalkeeper of his calibre will undoubtedly keep Hart on his toes.
When Haaland and Keane met on the pitch in a Manchester derby in 2001, the Irishman lost the little cool he ever had. To quote his autobiography: "I'd waited long enough. I f****** hit him hard. The ball was there (I think). Take that you c***."
With the football now finally underway, I expect the FIFA corruption stories to disappear from the media for a while. Let's hope this is an opportunity to focus on much bigger scandals, including those closer to home.
These democratic heroes are also reminding us of the interconnectedness of this struggle. It is a global issue, particularly when it comes to football. The pampered players ride in their bulletproof luxury coaches with police guards through the devastating poverty of the major cities of Brazil.
Yippee, just what we need - more live football. Don't get me wrong, I love football. I love watching football, but there is nothing better than getting out there and attending a game, no matter the level.
The blaming of the number of foreign players for the decline of the England squad, like the blaming of immigrants for the decline of job opportunities or wages is a smokescreen, detracting from the real issue.
Leicester City have finally returned to the pinnacle of the English league ladder. It's been a decade of ups and mainly downs for the Foxes, in their quest to make it back in to the elite twenty. In such time, the club has had a complete makeover, so here is what fans of the Premier League can expect from the East Midlands' new boys next term...
For any player, signing for your boyhood club would be a dream come true. For Rickie Lambert, that dream this week became a reality. The striker - and lifelong Liverpool fan - joined the Reds for an initial £4m on Monday, bringing an end to his five-year stay with Southampton.
Given the technical ability, youthful vigour and sheer athleticism in Tottenham's squad at present, there is reason to believe their players will be as capable of executing Pochettino's philosophy as effectively as Southampton...
Most are in agreement that the latest Premier League season was in fact a three-horse race and Blues fans could have been forgiven for getting their hopes up, even if they were ultimately left disappointed. A higher points total than the previous campaign shows progress, despite the fact that Chelsea could only manage back-to-back third place finishes.
Queens Park Rangers are a lucky, lucky club... But their luck doesn't start and end with a last minute goal taking them up. That Zamora goal saved the hides - for now - of a club facing some serious financial problems.
Louis van Gaal is regularly lauded as one of the great coaches of his generation and has won seven league titles with four different clubs across three countries. As such, Manchester United fans will understandably be hoping that his arrival at Old Trafford after the World Cup will signal a huge upturn in their club's fortunes after a dismal 10 months with David Moyes at the helm.
It is no secret that a lot of West Ham fans wanted Sam Allardyce gone following a disappointing season for the Hammers, but he will be in charge for at least one more campaign and is to make a number of changes to his backroom staff and style of football...