Wednesday 22 November 2017

Louis van Gaal scouting report: Tactics and verdict

Louis Van Gaal was pleased with his side's emphatic victory in California
Louis Van Gaal was pleased with his side's emphatic victory in California

Mark Ogden

Louis Van Gaal got his Manchester United career off to a winning start in California last night and here is a tactical overview of the 7-0 vicotory over the LA Galaxy.


Van Gaal may have offered a hint to a change of style of defensively at United by starting with a 3-4-1-2 formation. Luke Shaw and Antonio Valencia played as wing-backs with Jonny Evans, Phil Jones and Chris Smalling deployed at the back. Further forward, Juan Mata was encouraged to play in a free role between the midfield and attack, with Darren Fletcher and Ander Herrera anchoring midfield.


United started with their strongest possible line-up, including Wayne Rooney, with Van Gaal giving his senior players 45 minutes to impress before making wholesale changes at the interval. Darren Fletcher and Ander Herrera were the only two player to re-emerge after the break, with youngsters Michael Keane, Reece James and Tyler Blackett handed opportunities at the back.


Just as during the World Cup, Van Gaal opted to remain in seat throughout, choosing to observe rather than deliver instructions in the technical area. With coaches Ryan Giggs and Albert Stuivenberg sat alongside him, Van Gaal was in regular dialogue with his assistants, sharing opinions and views as the game progressed.


One major question hanging over United this summer is who Van Gaal will select as his captain at Old Trafford. Wayne Rooney is regarded as a leading candidate alongside Robin van Persie, but Van Gaal chose to hand the armband to Darren Fletcher. If nothing else, the move suggested that Van Gaal is ready to consider all possible contenders.


Ander Herrera looked at home in a United shirt on his first appearance, with the Spaniard offering creativity, energy and crisp distribution in midfield. Luke Shaw was also making his first start for the club following his arrival from Southampton and the teenage full-back was confident and gave United pace and width down the left.


An incredible start, with Van Gaal’s blueprint already evident as United coasted to victory against a team halfway through their league season. The big plus points were the performances of Herrera and Mata. They will find it tougher against stronger opposition, but the two Spaniards may give United a new dimension together. A seven goal victory is some start, though, regardless of the opposition.

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