herald

Sunday 22 October 2017

New man, new era, new style

LOUIS VAN GAAL began his reign as Manchester United manager with a resounding 7-0 win over the Los Angeles Galaxy.

Wayne Rooney, Ashley Young and debutant Reece James all scored twice, and Danny Welbeck also found the net as United crushed the Galaxy in the Pasadena Rose Bowl.

Ander Herrera, also turning out for United for the first time, showed why the club paid £28million for his services.

The Spaniard put on a dynamic and destructive display in Los Angeles, breaking up play and spraying killer passes across the park.

Van Gaa sent United out in the system he used with Holland at the World Cup.

So what are we to make of the new manager's approach ahead of the Premier League kick-off next month?

TACTICS:

Van Gaal may have offered a hint to a change of style of defensively at United by starting with a 3-4-1-2 formation.

Luke Shaw and Antonio Valencia played as wing-backs with Jonny Evans, Phil Jones and Chris Smalling deployed at the back. Further forward, Juan Mata was encouraged to play in a free role between the midfield and attack, with Darren Fletcher and Ander Herrera anchoring midfield.

PERSONNEL:

United started with their strongest possible line-up, including Wayne Rooney, with Van Gaal giving his senior players 45 minutes to impress before making wholesale changes at the interval.

Darren Fletcher and Ander Herrera were the only two player to re-emerge after the break, with youngsters Michael Keane, Reece James and Tyler Blackett handed opportunities at the back.

TOUCHLINE DEMEANOUR:

Just as during the World Cup, Van Gaal opted to remain in seat throughout, choosing to observe rather than deliver instructions in the technical area. With coaches Ryan Giggs and Albert Stuivenberg sat alongside him, Van Gaal was in regular dialogue with his assistants, sharing opinions and views as the game progressed.

BIG CALLS:

One major question hanging over United this summer is who Van Gaal will select as his captain at Old Trafford. Wayne Rooney is regarded as a leading candidate alongside Robin van Persie, but Van Gaal chose to hand the armband to Darren Fletcher. If nothing else, the move suggested that Van Gaal is ready to consider all possible contenders.

NEW BOYS:

Ander Herrera looked at home in a United shirt on his first appearance, with the Spaniard offering creativity, energy and crisp distribution in midfield. Luke Shaw was also making his first start for the club following his arrival from Southampton and the teenage full-back was confident and gave United pace and width down the left.

VERDICT:

An incredible start, with Van Gaal's blueprint already evident as United coasted to victory against a team halfway through their league season. The big plus points were the performances of Herrera and Mata. They will find it tougher against stronger opposition, but the two Spaniards may give United a new dimension together. A seven goal victory is some start, though, regardless of the opposition.

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