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Doom and gloom? Man United boss is sculpting another great team

The £36.6m capture of Monaco forward Anthony Martial has been analysed from every single possible angle as the young Frenchman prepares to become one of the most scrutinised players in world football. However, a closer look at the Manchester United team he is about to come into suggests the move has wider implications than your typical deadline day panic buy.

Manager Louis van Gaal has been credited with setting the wheels in motion for European giants Bayern Munich and Barcelona as they enjoy continued success, while previously in charge at both clubs. It is the Dutchman, now United supremo of course, who is said to have helped lay the foundations of Jupp Heynckes’ treble winning Bayern team of 2013.

It was he who blooded the likes of Thomas Muller and Toni Kroos, he who promoted Philipp Lahm to vice-captain and he who moulded Bastian Schweinsteiger from a winger into an assured central midfielder.

The side now flourishing under Pep Guardiola (a Van Gaal protégé, funnily enough) who draws a lot of influence from 2009-11, when the Dutchman was in control. The high pressing up the field and short passing masterclasses we are so often privy to derive from those years, and have been expertly blended with a cut-throat counter attacking style provided by the likes of Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery.

Many believe the former Holland coach to be the architect of the Allianz Arena outfit we see now. Bayern legend Paul Breitner believes he “prepared the style, this new Bayern Munich style”.

The Bavarian icon would go on to add “he played the game of ball possession, of control on the game and domination. This is the way our team is still playing under Pep Guardiola.”

Lahm himself, waxed lyrical about his former boss “He did a lot of good things here. He brought a more tactical approach. That’s stuck with the team”.

Both spells in charge of La Liga juggernauts Barcelona led to success. First time round, he secured two league titles in two years. It was, however, the second time that laid the foundations for the Blaugrana we see today.

Of course, a certain Johan Cruyff’s influence in Spain can’t be underestimated. The two notoriously do not see eye to eye, but that should not diminish the forward thinking set about by Van Gaal.

Shortly before his second departure from the Nou Camp, he is said to have imagined a day where the side would be completely comprised of La Masia graduates. In 2012, long after he had left for pastures new – the dream was realised in a match against Levante.

Many of the side that day had been given their debut by Van Gaal. The likes of Xavi, Andres Iniesta, Carlos Puyol and ironically Victor Valdes, who has been given the cold shoulder while at United, all played.

Valdes, in fact, penned a thank you to the man he is currently embroiled in a feud with. “Thank you to Louis van Gaal, for the courage necessary to gamble on talent only he could see”, read a statement from the ‘keeper upon leaving the Catalan club.

Now, at Old Trafford – Van Gaal is under fire for a lack of return despite spending over £200m in just two years. The side currently look functional, at times farcical, rather than free-flowing and fantastic.

However, dig a little deeper into the squad he’s slowly moulding, and we are arguably seeing a master at work.

Anthony Martial is a talent, an expensive one, granted, but a talent nonetheless. He and Memphis Depay can be moulded into a dynamic partnership, it will take time – probably more time than the 64-year old will last at the helm, but two of the most exciting young players in Europe now ply their trade at Manchester United.

There is obviously a gamble when paying around £60m (not counting incentives) for two youngsters who could be great. But the two players are not lacking in talent, and the chance to showcase their ability at the Theatre of Dreams can lead to great things. CR7 anyone? Ok, perhaps now I’m going too far.

Morgan Schneiderlin has been brought in to replace Michael Carrick as the holding man. The £25m acquisition has slotted into his new surroundings with ease, and is only on an upward trajectory. His range of passing and tactical nous will be vital to the Red Devils.

In Matteo Darmian, LVG has finally ended the search for a right-back. The athletic Italian can provide the perfect balance between incisive attacking play and stout defensive work. Luke Shaw on the opposite flank can ditto this. Although both full-backs had a torrid time out against Swansea recently, they are still learning. Instant success is simply too much to ask for.

Even Chris Smalling has come on leaps and bounds under the outspoken Dutchman. Recently tied down to a new five-year deal, the former Fulham youngster can now genuinely be considered as a solid centre-half – something that might have sounded ridiculous only a year ago.

The Red Devils are nowhere near being a top team just yet. But their manager has proven to be an architect of great teams in the past, and the youngsters on show can be moulded into a stellar side. Someday.

Whether it clicks under the current regime or not, Manchester United could be set for a great future. Sir Alex Ferguson was hailed as a creator of successful teams, perhaps the current man in charge is doing the same.

It’s not all doom and gloom at Old Trafford.

Article title: Doom and gloom? Man United boss is sculpting another great team

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