Many thought that improving the team after David Moyes wouldn’t be a hard job at all.
However, experienced Dutch coach Louis van Gaal has made a right pig’s ear of it at the moment. Nevertheless, van Gaal has a wealth of knowledge and has managed in some of the biggest and best clubs in the world, such as Bayern Munich, Barcelona and the Dutch national side.
The former Netherlands chief has always stuck to his own strict principles, and one of them that have caused a stir is his attack minded formation. Van Gaal has stuck to the 3-5-2 formation, with wing back’s implemented to help the team in both attacking and defensive situations. But after the Red Devils dismal start – just two points from three games and humiliated in the Capital One cup against League One outfit MK Dons – why has the way he wants his team to play caused such a problem?
The wing backs that van Gaal has used is one issue. His ruthlessness with player recruitment is well documented, as well as who he chooses in his starting XI. It’s fair to say Ashley Young and Antonio Valencia are not suited in that position. Both have the drive to go forward, but defensively they are non-existent. This is exactly why signing Ajax and Holland international Daley Blind is a shrewd move, and is as important as the signings of Angel Di Maria and Falcao.
With the arrivals of Blind from Ajax and Marcos Rojo from Sporting Lisbon, the question beckons, what now for Luke Shaw? Another England international who has the potential to be one of the best left backs in the country. Van Gaal has criticised the left back fitness levels, and as a result, this will be another promising English talent whose career has been blighted due to the fact Blind and Rojo are much more well equipped in that position.
With Rojo’s defensive display’s for Argentina in the World Cup being highly praised, and Blind having the freedom to counter attack at will, Shaw will no doubt return to his roots at Southampton in the not too distant future.
On the attacking front, Di Maria, Falcao and Ander Herrera are fantastic additions to the squad, and have made a statement to the English Premier League title contenders. After Mesut Ozil left Real Madrid for Arsenal, all eyes were on Di Maria at the Bernabeu to provide the assists for the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema. The Argentinian winger will be providing exactly the same to the same calibre of players such as Rooney, Van Persie and Falcao, so why have Manchester United been written off for the title already?
Van Gaal played exactly the same formation with world class players at Bayern Munich in 2010, and didn’t get off to the best of starts, winning just one of his first four matches in charge. That season ended with Van Gaal guiding Bayern Munich to the Bundesliga title, and getting them to the Champions League final.
An international break is in the pipeline for most of his squad, a perfect chance for his players to work on the 3-5-2 formation when they return. It could mean the likes of Young, Fellaini and Shaw will be left to rot in the reserves, but this formation has been proven to be effective on the opposition, and Van Gaal’s philosophy will finally come good.