Manchester United look set to line-up in a new 3-4-1-2 formation under new manager Louis van Gaal. Here, we take a look at who may thrive and who will falter in that system.
United’s top scorer last season, Rooney seems to be set for a fantastic season under Van Gaal. In the Dutchman’s 3-4-1-2 system, Rooney is being deployed in what many think is his best position - centre-forward.
So far, Rooney has found the net multiple times against both LA Galaxy and Roma. Hopefully, these are just glimpses of the clinical finishing the Englishman will provide for United during the upcoming Premier League campaign.
2. Danny Welbeck
The 23-year-old, like Rooney, has impressed in United’s initial pre-season fixtures in the United States. The once promising young English talent has gone missing in the last couple of years as he has been constantly played out of position, whether it was out on the left in a 4-3-3 or as a left-sided midfielder in the infamous 4-2-2.
However, this may change under Van Gaal. The formed Netherlands manager’s decision to use the 3-4-1-2 means that Welbeck will given a chance to prove himself up front once again.
3. Juan Mata
The Spanish international was bought by United’s former manager David Moyes in the January transfer window and immediately impressed by bagging six goals. Yet Moyes’ tactics stopped United fans from seeing the magical form that won Mata two player of year awards at Chelsea.
It was often the case that Mata was pushed out wide so Rooney could be played in the number 10 position. All of this has been changed under Van Gaal, whose new formation allows Mata to play in his preferred role behind the strikers.
4. The fans
Red Devils fans do not have to worry about experiencing another torrid season. In fact, they should expect the opposite. Van Gaal’s experience and tactical ability will take United high up the Premier League table.
Fans can also expect very entertaining football from the team. Van Gaal’s new system will allow United to attack their opponents from all parts of the field. The Dutchman implemented the same system at the World Cup and his side scored a sensational 15 goals in the process.
In the Dutchman’s 3-4-1-2 system, the wingers will find it the most difficult to adapt. It is a known fact that Van Gaal wants his wide midfielders to contribute at both ends of the field.
Current United wingers such as Nani, Wilfried Zaha, and Ashley Young will all need to change their styles of play in order to fit into this system. The three of them are not known for their defensive work and if they don’t comply with Van Gaal’s wishes, then they face being played out of position up top or being axed.
The one winger who seems to be well suited for Van Gaal’s system is Antonio Valencia, who is capable of playing as a winger and as a full-back.
The full-backs, like the wingers, face the difficult task of adapting to a very new system. The likes of Luke Shaw and Rafael will need to posses a tremendous amount of energy on the flanks to succeed under Van Gaal.
The prime example of this would be Dirk Kuyt’s displays for the Netherlands at the World Cup. Van Gaal preferred Kuyt, traditionally a winger, to natural full-backs because of his endless work-rate. The former Liverpool man was always an outlet for the Dutch on counter-attacks and always tracked back.
3. Shinji Kagawa
Kagawa’s horrendous time at Manchester United unfortunately seems as if it will reach new lows. The Japanese attacker, once the star of the Bundesliga, will probably find it very hard to get playing time under Van Gaal as Mata will be preferred in the central attacking midfield role.
Unless Kagawa can start replicating his amazing Dortmund form and somehow convince Van Gaal he can excel in the front three, his future at Old Trafford seems very dim.