Tuesday 22 January 2019

Diamond formation proving to be Van Gaal's sparkling new best friend

After switching to a new-look formation that sparkled against Queens Park Rangers last weekend, a diamond may just be Louis van Gaal's new best friend as the Manchester United boss looks set to continue with it against Leicester City tomorrow.

United claimed their first three points of the season thanks to an emphatic 4-0 victory over QPR, lifting the gloom that had descended upon Old Trafford after they failed to win their opening three matches.

Van Gaal ditched his 3-5-2 formation in favour of a midfield diamond and it worked wonders against QPR as Daley Blind protected United's back four while Ander Herrera, Juan Mata and Angel Di Maria provided service for strikers Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie.

"I started with another system (at the beginning of the season) because of the quality of the players," Van Gaal said yesterday.

"Now we have bought quality players in and you have to look at these qualities and then perform the philosophy that we have. But that can change also. It is not a fixed solution."


Colombia striker Radamel Falcao, who has joined on-loan from Monaco, started on the bench against QPR and United's new-found attacking riches have given Van Gaal plenty to think about ahead of the trip to 12th-placed Leicester. Van Persie, who is yet to score this season, could be the most vulnerable player in the squad because of Falcao's arrival.

"I don't think that Falcao interfered with Van Persie (against QPR) or that he interfered with Falcao," the 63-year-old former Bayern Munich manager said.

"Falcao is a very good striker, I already said that when he came here in his first press conference. I like Van Persie as well - he is also a very good striker.

"Then we have Wayne Rooney and Adnan Januzaj, and we also have James Wilson. We have five players for the two striker positions and I have to choose."

Only Rooney seems to be safe from being dropped.


"Only the captain has more privileges," Van Gaal said. "No other player has privileges. "There are always players we put in the line-up in a team - my captain shall always play."

Young Belgian Januzaj has been the man to miss out in recent weeks and Van Gaal has urged the 19-year-old to rise to the standard set by United's other attacking options.

"He (Januzaj) has to compete with very good players," the Dutchman added. "You cannot put 15 players in the squad, only 11, and with this system he has to compete with a lot of very strong strikers."

Van Gaal looks set to stick with four at the back for tomorrow's game against the Foxes, where he hopes to register his second win as United boss.

Chris Smalling is available for the trip to the Premier League newcomers after he recovered from a groin strain. Sam Johnstone (elbow), Phil Jones (hamstring), Ashley Young (groin), Michael Carrick (ankle), Jesse Lingard (knee), Marouane Fellaini (ankle) are out.

Reece James and James Wilson are unlikely to feature due to unspecified injuries, but left-back Luke Shaw could make his debut.

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