Manchester United slumped to a 2-1 defeat in their opening group game against PSV, in the Champions League. Despite taking the lead through their new signing, Memphis Depay, Van Gaal’s side failed to protect their advantage as the Dutch outfit struck twice to secure the three points.
Although the result was overshadowed by Luke Shaw’s horrific injury, there has been plenty of discussion about how average Manchester United are and how they are destined to fail in the Champions League.
Granted that Manchester United are superior to PSV in terms of quality and that they should have secured the three points. However, it is naive to judge their potential based on that display.
Here are a few reasons why I think Louis Van Gaal’s side will bounce back.
Last season Van Gaal showed that he is willing to change his tactics in order to suit his players. With so many new players in the side, the manager and the players are still adapting and trying to find a solution that is beneficial for everyone.
So far, the Dutchman has used a conventional 4-2-3-1, considering the lack of attacking options. However, with the arrival of Anthony Martial and the promise he has showcased in his first two appearances, Van Gaal should seriously consider switching to a diamond.
With Wayne Rooney back in the side, a diamond will suit United better and will paper over their cracks.
A midfield four of Herrera, Carrick, Basti and Schneiderlin will not only allow them to control games away from home, but will also provide a lot more cover for their back four. Manchester United are a very good defensive unit and they could get better.
As far as their attack is considered, Rooney would be a lot more effective roaming around Martial, who showed that he is capable of leading the line.
The Luke Shaw injury
Manchester United looked pretty decent in the first half up until Memphis Depay scored.
The Luke Shaw injury left the players shell-shocked and through their own admission, their heads were messed up after the incident. The United players looked distraught and failed to concentrate on the rest of the game.
The likes of Ashley young struggled to speak even after the game.
The away side controlled the game well in the first half and had the chances to bury it. If not for the Shaw incident, United would have probably maintained the same tempo and eventually capitalized on their chances in the second half.
Manchester United have been the best defensive side in the league for quite a while now. For sustained periods, against the top teams, United have demonstrate efficient defensive organisation and tactical intelligence.
Van Gaal’s well drilled defensive setups will stand United in good stead in the Champions League. History shows that defensively well organised sides have always done well in the competition, regardless of their slow start in the group stages.
Having said all of that, I am pretty sure Manchester United do not have it in them to win the competition. However it is beyond any doubt that they have the ability, experience and know-how to do well in it, perhaps even better than their Premier League counterparts.
As far as City and Arsenal are concerned, they simply do not have the tactical know-how/experience or midfield options to cope with the varying setups of other European sides. Although Chelsea cannot be written off just yet, they are quite likely to be humiliated if they don’t get their act together soon.