Louis van Gaal was right not to sign centre-back for Manchester United

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Finally, the Manchester United machine ignited. On a night dubbed by Louis van Gaal as his biggest in the job, Wayne Rooney bagged a hat-trick and Ander Herrera added another to send them through to the group stages of the Champions League. 

But, strangely enough, it's United's defence that has been their most impressive feature so far. Again Chris Smalling and Daley Blind looked the part, with their continuing form justifying Van Gaal's decision not to sign a new centre-back this window. 

The Dutchman has been under pressure to delve into the transfer market despite already bringing in five recruits - but still may yet land a marquee name in order to challenge on all fronts this season. 


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Unlikely combination

When Van Gaal waltzed into Old Trafford, many expected Smalling to be on his way out having failed to impress under both Sir Alex Ferguson and then David Moyes. 

However over a year on and the former Fulham player looks to have finally justified his manager's faith, helping United to keep a fourth clean sheet in five games despite having no David De Gea in the starting line-up. 

Blind meanwhile arrived from Ajax as a holding midfielder, but after being shunted around is now a prominent fixture at the heart of the defence. He won his battle with Tom De Sutter, the giant Bruges striker, and now looks at ease with his new position. 

Marcos Rojo was a success after touching down from Sporting Lisbon last season, but the Argentinean is still yet to feature and, like the injured Phil Jones, faces an uphill battle to force himself back into the side.

Striking contrast

Van Gaal's decision to keep with Rooney, whose goal drought had been well publicised, paid dividends and the United manager will be hoping his captain now uses his hat-trick as a platform for things to come.

In the past he has always had Cristiano Ronaldo, Carlos Tevez or Dimitar Berbatov around him, but all three are long gone and the goalscoring burden now rests firmly on his shoulders.

The night was less successful for Javier Hernandez however, with the Mexican missing a penalty and then misfiring from five yards in a cameo that, if the facial expressions of Van Gaal and Ryan Giggs are anything to go by, will keep him out of the side for the foreseeable future. 

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Louis van Gaal
Transfer News
Premier League
Manchester United

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