Four games into the Premier League season, a new-look Manchester United side recorded their first victory with an encouraging 4-0 victory against QPR, albeit a QPR team devoid of confidence and direction. Louis Van Gaal’s revolution has only just started, but it is better to get going later than never.
With four of Van Gaal’s new signings making their home debuts – Radamel Falcao, Daley Blind, Angel di Maria and Marcos Rojo – United’s team suddenly find themselves equipped with incredible offensive options, which their newly-promoted opponents quickly found out.
However, despite a £150 million summer spending splurge, Van Gaal still does not possess a team that is ready to mount a challenge for the Premier League title.
Against QPR, Van Gaal opted to field a Galactico frontline in a narrow 4-1-2-1-2 diamond formation, unlike the 3-4-1-2 formation which he used in their first three games.
With only Blind being tasked to shield the defence, this leaves the squad unbalanced as Blind gives the other midfielders more freedom to attack the opposition, and abandon their defensive duties.
Although this may accommodate all their offensive players, this leaves United defensively vulnerable since they would quickly find themselves overwhelmed if teams are given chances to counter-attack and set them back-pedalling.
This possibility is only worsened by the fact that Van Gaal likes his full-backs to provide even more support when on the ball in the opposition’s half.
Therefore, this creates a team that may be very dangerous and creative on the ball, yet a team that is also perilously susceptible when not in possession.
Consequently, the lack of quality in defence means that United have become a team that will rely on their strikers and attacking midfielders to ensure the team outscores the opposition – creating a top-heavy side that is potentially devastating. Yet, their greatest strength will surely be their greatest weakness.
Needs time to gel
The 63-year-old Dutchman is continuing to alter his formation, which will hinder United’s ambitions as such uncertainty in terms of tactics and personnel will make it more difficult for the team to settle.
This is especially the case when no less than five signings have been brought in and immediately drafted into the first team. Although this improves the team in the long-run, it temporarily unsettles the squad further – affecting results during the early season, and ultimately damaging their title credentials.
Now equipped with £150 million worth of new talent and a mad, yet managerial genius in Van Gaal, the expectations set by the fans and the club board have been elevated, and rightly so for the 13-time Premier League champions.
Even his own ambitions could add to the tide of pressure which the players will have to confront throughout the season, when he said: "I want to win the Premier League title’’.
"If it is not this year, then the second or third year. I want to give a championship to the fans."
Having to burden such colossal weights of expectation, it will be extremely difficult for the players to match the hopes of the Old Trafford faithful of a title-winning season.
Therefore, this, along with the current team’s issues, will mean that even a top four finish should be deemed a success, although it is not what the fans desire.