Louis van Gaal has thrown Manchester United plans to hold friendlies in place of European fixtures during the first ten weeks of the season into disarray, by quashing the idea altogether.
According to the Daily Express the club had decided that they wanted to play friendlies whilst their rivals are participating in the Champions League, but Van Gaal has told how he wants to use the opening three months of the campaign to ensure that all members of his team are comfortable using the system he is implementing.
The Dutchman has set about ringing the changes since his Old Trafford appointment, and has made it clear in the past that it’s very much a case of ‘my way or the highway’ when it comes to decisions which might unsettle those above him. However given the fact that the club are keen to build harmony on the back of last season’s disaster, it’s unlikely Van Gaal will have to argue his case when it comes to this specific point. Put plainly, he’s going to get his way.
Van Gaal’s words
"I need a period of at least 10 weeks to get this team to play the way I want to,” the 62-year-old said.
"Only after that will matters be different and we will see if there is an opportunity to play a couple of matches abroad.
"I've spoken to the club's management about friendlies in the coming season.
"The opponents need to be of a high level as they have been over the past few weeks in the United States.
"The first 10 weeks from Monday to Friday I would just like to train."
Van Gaal’s United
It’s been so far so good for United under Van Gaal, having maintained a 100% record during their pre-season tour of the US. Opponents such as LA Galaxy, Roma, Inter Milan and Real Madrid have fallen by the wayside in their attempts to knock the Dutchman’s train of momentum off of its tracks, and Red Devils fans are rightly beginning to look to the new season with excitement rather than foreboding.
And, whilst the majority are hesitant to get their hopes to high, it must be said that the team looks completely different under Van Gaal. The 3-4-3 formation seems to have been ushered in without too much crossover from the tactics David Moyes employed, and key figures that went missing all too often last term are steadily enjoying a resurgence.
European fixtures taking their toll?
Much has been made over the fact that United won’t be playing in Europe this coming season, and subsequently whether or not it will aid their chances of recapturing the Premier League title they so feebly surrendered to rivals Manchester City last year.
Liverpool exceeded expectations during their gallant run to a second-placed finish during the 2013/14 campaign, with many speculating that it was their omission from European football - and therefore suffering from no ‘hangover effect’ - which gave them the advantage.
Should United begin to play friendlies when others are competing in mid-week games in the Champions League that would surely negate any such boost they may have, and Van Gaal has made it abundantly clear that it’s not something he’s willing to play along with - at least not until his side is playing at a level deemed acceptable by him.