Manager Louis Van Gaal already has Manchester United looking like a completely different team as they’ve completed a few preseason friendlies against the Los Angeles Galaxy and AS Roma.
It could be the implementation of his formation that he used when he managed the Netherlands during the recent 2014 World Cup. It could also be the new additions of Luke Shaw and Ander Herrera that have impressed in a major way so far. Perhaps it’s the change in attitude and strategy that differentiates Van Gaal from previous manager David Moyes.
Whatever the reasons may be, no one can deny that the Red Devils look much more formidable under Van Gaal at the moment, but we can’t expect a run at the league title right away, can we?
It’s probably a bit early to expect that since the Red Devils have only played one fairly challenging team in AS Roma, but we can speculate a bit based on what we have seen both individually and collectively from the players.
It is obvious to see that Van Gaal’s 5-3-2/3-5-2 formation fits very well with the collection of players he has at his disposal. Quick wing-backs like Shaw and Antonio Valencia provide great width and pace in attack, and they also have the speed to recover quickly enough to shut down opposing attacks as well.
While the Dutch midfielders were generally more focused on the defensive end and preventing counterattacks, United’s midfield has more creative players like Herrera, Juan Mata and Shinji Kagawa who can provide excellent service through the middle of the field to forwards Wayne Rooney and Danny Welbeck.
The problem that remains for Van Gaal is tightening up his core three defenders who will be the last line of defense if the wing-backs cannot recover in time to help out. The viable options are Jonny Evans, Chris Smalling and Phil Jones, but Van Gaal is said to be keen on adding one or two of his Dutch defenders who would be much more comfortable in this system.
Another option could be Mats Hummels, who was a rock solid defender for Germany as they rolled to a World Cup victory.
If Van Gaal can improve that aspect of his team in the remaining days before the season starts, or even during the Winter transfer window if they can maintain a high table slot until then, then Red Devils may be looking at a return to glory.
One added bit of assistance is the lack of Champions League football for them this season. A disappointing seventh-place finish last year will allow Van Gaal and his team to focus solely on the Barclays Premier League in the same vein as Liverpool‘s wonderful season last year.
The quality is there for this Red Devils side, and the addition of Van Gaal’s mad genius may be the change necessary to restore order at Old Trafford and remind fans that their club is still one of the best in the world.