After an indifferent start to the season, Manchester United currently lie third in the Premier League standings and having seen off Cambridge United in midweek, are in the fifth round of the FA Cup, a realistic chance to end the campaign with silverware.
Defender Jonny Evans admitted that the Red Devils are slowly but surely adapting to Louis Van Gaal’s style and approach but it has been tough to adapt with the Dutch legend’s blueprint. United have featured in different formations this term, sometimes going with 3 at the back whereas at times, the 4-4-2 diamond has been preferred.
Evans admitted, “The fact that the formation has changed a lot has taught the lads an awful lot. Coming into games, if we do have any changes in formation I think it is a big plus for us to have. The fact we are using different formations against different teams can only benefit us in the long run.”
Right from the start of the season, Van Gaal stressed on his philosophy which wouldn’t always guarantee instant results but is for the long term. The manager’s approach has been to train players where they can ‘think’ and apply themselves on the pitch rather than act on instincts.
While this would take the best out of players, the transition will not be easy. Under Sir Alex Ferguson, the Red Devils were perhaps the best counter attacking team in English football with less emphasis on tactics and more on man managing the players back room. English players too aren’t known to be technically gifted than their Dutch, Spanish, Argentine and Brazilian counterparts. Thus in the coming years we could see a gradual decline in the number of England Internationals while Van Gaal is in charge.
Moreover, the presence of a plethora of attacking players hampers the balance of the side. Van Gaal recently said that playing the diamond brings balance but the back four, with two natural wingbacks playing, exposes the defensive line. Another aspect has been side about United that they haven’t been entertaining enough. Fans however need to be more patient and must realize that mustering points are the real currency.
Evans pointing out team mated Wayne Rooney, Robin van Persie, Radamel Falcao, Angel di MarIa and Juan Mata, saying, “When you get as many attacking players on the pitch as we’ve got you are always going to entertain.”
“But the manager has done a lot of work in trying to steady the team and making sure everyone knows their jobs. Once we get that nailed on, and everyone knows their defensive jobs, then I think we’ll be able to push on from that and be really entertaining again.”
United are currently five points adrift of Manchester City as they travel to Upton Park to take on West Ham this Sunday. Finishing in a Champions League place place will be the priority but whether or not United have adopted to Van Gaal’s philosophy is still up for debate. Maybe, we can get a better answer at the end of the season