Manchester United are top of the table after their comfortable 3-0 win against Sunderland yesterday. Although the Premier League giants have started slow, they are extremely effective as a unit.
With just one defeat in seven games this season, Louis Van Gaal is slowly building a trophy winning team at Old Trafford. Following the dip in form of Chelsea and Manchester City, plenty are tipping Manchester United to mount a serious title threat this season.
When Louis Van Gaal was appointed at Manchester United, certain sections of the fan base scoffed at the thought of an authoritarian in charge of their club. Here at Soccerlens, we look at some of things the controversial Dutchman has done right so far.
Louis Van Gaal is as strict and dominating as they come. The Dutchman has reputation of being very disciplined and organised in his day to day running of a football club.
It seems the former Ajax and Barcelona manager has stuck to his principles at Old Trafford as well. Regardless of the rumours of a dressing room mutiny, De Gea forcing a move, Valdes fall out and question marks over his strict training regime, nothing has changed at Manchester United.
Van Gaal is still the same man, doing the same things. Only people adapting here are the players, staff and the fans. His disciplined approach and control over the club has grown exponentially and it seems to be benefitting Manchester United on and off the pitch.
Added creativity and speed upfront
Earlier this season, Louis Van Gaal claimed that if Manchester United need to win the Champions league, they will need to add pace and creativity along with goals.
“I can give examples of champions, Bayern Munich have [Franck] Ribery and [Arjen] Robben, Chelsea have [Eden] Hazard and Willian, Real Madrid – [Cristiano] Ronaldo and [Gareth] Bale, Barcelona have Neymar and [Lionel] Messi.
“Manchester United fans want us to compete with these teams.
“[Ashley] Young and [Juan] Mata had fantastic seasons [last year], with assists and goals, but to win the Champions League you need speed also.
“That is why I think, maybe, we still have to buy a player with speed and creativity”, he said.
Van Gaal has now gone and got himself two players in Memphis Depay and Anthony Martial, who can add pace, flair and goals to his frontline. Depay has already bagged a Champions league brace and Anthony Martial has scored 4 times since his debut against Liverpool.
The results are there for everyone to see, Manchester United have gone from being just an effective unit to a team that now seeks to control games and score goals.
Faith in youngsters
Van Gaal has always had faith in young players. The way he has managed the likes of Martial, Depay, Smalling, Shaw etc are a testament to his fantastic ability to nurture young footballers.
Regardless of his respect for seasoned veterans, Van Gaal is of the belief that young players can be just as effective and experienced. The key for him is to find the right player, not an established veteran.
“Experience is important, but you can also have plenty of experience at the age of 16 or 18,” he says.
Tactically, Van Gaal is a phenomenal manager. The Dutchman has set his team up in various formations and approach in order to grind out results.
Manchester United have the best defensive form in the league since November, 2014 and all that was achieved with makeshift defenders like Valencia, Young, Blind etc, who aren’t specialist defenders.
Cut your coat according to your cloth
Van Gaal understands the importance of playing to his player’s strengths. The Dutchman has often been accused of playing boring football with Manchester United and yet his side has the best defensive record and is on top of the table.
If not for a late dip in form last season, Manchester United could have easily finished in top 3. Van Gaal has done extremely well to manage expectations and deliver during this transition period. Although he has had the opportunity to work with a wealth of resources, he has impressed.
At times last season, Van Gaal was lacking in attacking options and often set up in a defensive manner with the hope of grinding out 1-0 wins and more often than not, he succeeded.
Football is a results business and Van Gaal, much like Jose Mourinho, knows how to get the job done.
To sum it up, Van Gaal is an excellent manager and an even better team builder. What looked like an underperforming, ageing side under David Moyes has shaped up as an exciting unit now. Like every other manager, Van Gaal has his limitations, but his illustrious career is a testament to his ability. And as for United’s good run of form, Van Gaal is only just getting started.