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Football: Don't expect Di Maria to transform Man Utd, warns van Gaal

Despite breaking the British transfer record to sign Angel Di Maria, Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal says that the Argentinian midfielder is not a miracle worker.

LONDON: 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 (Aug 30).

Van Gaal shattered the British transfer record with his £59.7 million (S$123.6 million) signing of Di Maria from Real Madrid as he continued a major overhaul of United's underachieving squad which has exceeded £130 million since he took charge. Di Maria should get his first taste of the Premier League at some stage during United's trip to Turf Moor, but van Gaal isn't expecting miracles from the midfielder despite his impressive pedigree.

United are still waiting for their first victory under van Gaal after losing to Swansea, drawing with Sunderland and then suffering an abject 4-0 defeat at League One minnows 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 didn't want to criticise 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 what 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."

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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 travel to leaders Tottenham. Balotelli joined Brendan Rodgers' side from AC Milan for £16 million after agreeing to a contract that will reward the Italian for good behaviour.

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 defeat 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 have a 100 per cent 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 are likely to come up against one or both of their 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 both 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."

Champions City are also off to a 100 per cent start and will expect to maintain their winning record at home to Stoke, while Arsenal travel to Leicester on Sunday buoyed by their Champions League play-off victory over Besiktas in midweek. Neil Warnock begins his second spell in charge of Crystal Palace with a trip to Newcastle.

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