Manchester United manager Louis Van Gaal has a decision to make on how his side approach the first game of the Barclays Premier League season in three weeks time.
United, who opened their pre-season campaign with a thumping 7-0 victory against LA Galaxy last night, regularly played 4-4-2 under former manager David Moyes last season where they finished seventh in the league.
With Van Gaal now in charge, the Dutchmen demonstrated he can mix up his formations when guiding Netherlands to the semi-finals of the World Cup in Brazil.
Losing to Argentina on penalties, the 62-year-old applied a 5-3-2, 4-3-3 and 3-5-2 formation throughout his campaign and eventually beat Brazil 3-0 in the third-placed play off.
Winning over 60% of his games in charge, Van Gaal has already carried that mentality into Manchester United with a well documented win against David Beckham’s former side.
In a job he only took over last Wednesday, Van Gaal was very pleased with the way his side played and praised his squad for adapting to the 3-5-2 formation which he played yesterday. Many players have seen training regimes upped and have been seen carrying a positive swagger about them, but who will be ready come August 16th?
First all of, the answer is every player. Every player wants to play but Van Gaal will pick a side that suits his formation.
3-5-2 are the rumours and that could bode well for the likes of Luke Shaw and Antonio Valencia. With the two penning new deals at the club,Valencia could be used as a right wing-back to help bolster United’s midfield – like he did last night.
Shaw, 19, a recent signing from Southampton, could be used as a left wing-back helping to create space for the central midfielders such as Ander Herrera, who was given the man of the match award after assisting three goals.
But that is where the problem occurs for Van Gaal. With so many creative midfielders in the side he can’t fit them all in.
Juan Mata, Shinji Kagawa, Wayne Rooney and Adnan Januzaj all like to play behind the striker and with one position available who will take that spot?
With assistant manager Ryan Giggs by his side, he has the experience of a man who has played alongside all three giving him advice. He can also use these four weeks to select his best team and see who fits in a squad that he will use throughout the 2014/2015 season. But is that enough time?
After the 7-0 victory, Van Gaal said: "We have four No.10s, so the selection is not balanced in my eyes."
Van Gaal has good knowledge of the players at his disposal and it was interesting to see Kagawa played as a central midfielder when coming on as a substitute. Juan Mata started in the no.10 role with Rooney partnering Welbeck as a second striker.
Both halves of football were played with control and no player stood out except Herrera. The Spanish midfielder was part of everything and has surely nailed a spot in the starting 11 for United’s next game against Roma in two days time.
It will be an interesting time for the rest of Manchester United’s players as nobody knows their fate. This time in four weeks, United will have begun their new Premier League campaign. For the fans it’s an exciting wait, but for the players, it is now time to step up and adjust to Van Gaal’s philosophy or face the exit door with only a squad of 25 eligible for the Premier League.
United have three pre-season fixtures left in the States before facing Valencia a few days before their first league fixture against Swansea City at Old Trafford.
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