“There are more things in Heaven and Earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy” – William Shakespeare
Much has already been said about Manchester United’s tactical developments and setbacks after the arrival of Louis Van Gaal over the summer, but so far, no one has yet dared to openly question the Dutch manager about the lack of consistency brought on by his constant changes on the team’s game style.
Last week, Louis Van Gaal, who was on a remarkably good mood before the team’s trip to Wales, told the media that if one had in mind the last 19 or 20 English Premier League matches, we had to consider that Manchester United were the best team in the league.
These sort of farfetched statements are the ones that pass the idea that Van Gaal has been a little bit self-centered lately or that he is checking reality through a Lewis Carroll novel, probably on the top of the wall from where Humpty Dumpty accidentally fell.
The Red Devils’ recent EPL performances have been far from brilliant and, although they have managed to win three of the last five matches, they are still miles and miles away from being the best team in the league as the Dutch manager has claimed.
The narrow and undeserved home win over Burnley was a prelude to what was yet to come. The Clarets only didn’t snatch the three points from their visit to Old Trafford because they had to deal with a super inspired David de Gea, who managed to frustrate almost all goal attempts of the visitors. In fact, the Spanish goalkeeper is the one to credit for most of United’s recent wins, something that clearly counters Van Gaal’s so-called stability.
Last Saturday, the Red Devils once again failed to overcome Swansea and collected the second defeat of the season against the Welsh side. Van Gaal have finally found a way of including the former Athletic Bilbao midfielder Ander Herrera in the team’s starting lineup for league matches and the quality of ball possession and the quality of passing have significantly increased, especially in the midfield line.
On the other hand, the team’s defensive line keeps acting as a ship that is about to sink and this time, David de Gea wasn’t able to save them from their own consecutive mistakes. United conceded their fifth defeat in the league and risk losing their place among the top five if they continue to stumble like this.
United’s current tactical system is quite confuse and no one appears to understand the Dutchman’s game philosophies anymore. Van Gaal seems to have abandoned, at least for a while, his 3-5-2 usual system in favour of an asymmetric 4-3-1-2 style, that is no more than a slight variation from a plain 4-4-2 diamond shaped style.
Although these tactical changes were somehow necessary, the players seem to be struggling to adapt to all of these constant changes on the team’s game style and that might have some nefast effects in the team in the matches to come.
There aren’t, or there shouldn’t be, any doubts on Louis Van Gaal’s splendid managerial skills, although, given the outrageous amount of money Manchester United spent this season, it is fair to at least wonder if the Dutch manager shouldn’t be doing things differently, now that his so-called adaptation period is already over.