All eyes are on Manchester United, as another edition of the English Premier League gets set to kick off in less than a week’s time.
After United’s spectacular fall from grace last season, Louis van Gaal’s stewardship at Old Trafford will begin high on optimism when his team takes the field against Swansea City this Saturday.
With the disappointing David Moyes era now squarely in United’s rearview mirror and no European football to look forward to, the Red Devils can fully concentrate on improving over their 7th place finish in the league last season.
Louis van Gaal takes the reins at Old Trafford having demonstrated his managerial wizardry to the masses in the Netherlands’ impressive World Cup run, in addition to United’s undefeated International Champions Cup campaign.
It would be premature to say that Manchester United is back, but it is evident that Van Gaal’s adjustments have already put his new team on the right path. Here are 3 things to expect from Manchester United this season:
1. The Implementation of Van Gaal’s Infamous 3-4-1-2
Is it a 3-4-1-2? A 5-2-1-2? A 3-5-2? Call it what you want, but you can expect to see a lot of it from Louis van Gaal’s side this season.
Van Gaal unfurled the formation at this summer’s World Cup to compensate for the loss of Kevin Strootman. The new formation worked to glorious effect, as a rather pedestrian Dutch side (at least compared to the one that finished runners-up 4 years ago in South Africa) obliterated Spain 5-1 in their opening match and ultimately finished 3rd in Brazil.
Van Gaal has opted to install the same formation at Manchester United, and it has already proven highly effective in their preseason tour of the United States. Manchester United employed it for most of the International Champions Cup, winning 3 out of 4 matches and scoring 9 goals en route to winning the competition. Additionally, they cruised to a remarkable 7-0 victory over the LA Galaxy in a friendly at the Rose Bowl.
The 3-4-1-2 is Van Gaal’s formation of choice because it provides stability at the back, encourages ball circulation and retention, and allows his talented playmakers time and space on the ball to do what they do best.
Don’t be surprised if LVG flips the script and we see United go to a 4-3-3 or possibly a 4-4-2, but expect them to line up in a 3-4-1-2 on most occasions.
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