Louis van Gaal’s intense training sessions ahead of his maiden campaign in charge of Manchester United are to blame for Luke Shaw’s recent injury, according to Dutch coach Raymond Verheijen.
The ex-Southampton starlet, who completed his switch to Old Trafford earlier this summer for £27 million, has been ruled out for up to a month with a hamstring complaint, and now it looks as though youngster Reece James will start the opening fixture against Swansea City tomorrow. Following the departure of Patrice Evra to Juventus, Shaw’s injury has put pressure on the squad, pressure that Verheijen believes was avoidable.
The outspoken Dutchman has criticised Van Gaal for his incompetence when it comes to preparing players for a new season, and admitted that he was baffled by the way Shaw had been handled since his return to training.
“What LVG proves is that top coaches are not perfect. Even the world's best have deficiencies,” Verheijen said on his Twitter feed, according to the Daily Mail.
“LVG is tactically superior to most other coaches but planning & periodisation is not his strongest point: double sessions & muscle injuries.
“The Luke Shaw case is the climax of Manchester United's predictable pre-season injury crisis due to 'too much training too soon'.”
Verheijen then stated how there was room for improvement in this area of Van Gaal’s management, which echoes his words on David Moyes when Robin van Persie picked up an injury midway through last term.
“Luke Shaw had to do extra training to get fit. Who was in charge of his individual programme?,” he quizzed.
“LVG's coaching skills & tactical superiority often compensate for this periodisation deficiency but there is clearly room for improvement.”
In the wake of Shaw’s injury Van Gaal is said to be desperate to sign Sporting Lisbon utility man Marco Rojo. The Argentina star proved during this summer’s World Cup that he was capable of comfortably slotting into a wingback position, and his versatility means that he’s also comfortable when deployed at centre-back.
For though James has a bright future ahead of him he’s never played in the Premier League before, and the fixture tomorrow, if he does indeed start, could prove to be something of a baptism of fire. Whilst Swansea aren’t the most tricky of opposition the match itself is of incredible importance, especially as expectations are now high thanks to an unbeaten pre-season.
Van Gaal’s methods
Amidst the flurry of praise it’s a breathe of fresh air to see comments from someone who isn’t fully behind Van Gaal. Verheijen’s comments, though certain to be dismissed by the United faithful, do point out a potential flaw in the new Red Devils’ boss’ aggressive techniques. The 63-year-old is known to be a demanding character on the training pitch, and is already said to have identified Shaw as a player who needs to improve his work rate.
Earlier this month the 19-year-old conceded that he would have to improve his fitness to meet Van Gaal’s expectations, with the onus now on him to excel in the left-back role vacated by Evra.