The summer arrival of Louis van Gaal at Manchester United has sparked excitement amongst many United fans as well as raising concerns from rival fans, but when looking at the wreckage of last seasons dismal campaign, how can one man make such a difference?
The key change that the former Barcelona, Bayern and Holland manager has made in his short time at Old Trafford is that of instilling confidence in a talented side that had been completely devoid of any self belief. We cannot forget that merely the season before last effectively the same group of players lifted the Premier League trophy under Sir Alex in his final year, so this is not a team without talent. Add to that the record signing of the brilliant Juan Mata and there was no obvious reason why United struggled so badly last time out. However, where unfortunately David Moyes failed, van Gaal will flourish. He has the immense presence and ego of the great man who ruled United for so long, as well as the experience and the tactical knowledge to succeed with this group of players. Van Gaal has adopted a new formation, one that has not been seen at United ever before, doing away with the traditional wingers that much of Manchester United’s history has been built on and converted to a more continental 3-5-2 formation, allowing both United’s key men Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie to play prominent roles at the same time as well as allowing playmaker Juan Mata the freedom he craves in his favored role behind the strikers, this immediately loosens some of the restraints put on the players by Moyes’ rigid, stubborn tactics implemented last season.
As well as the greater tactical knowledge that van Gaal brings he also appears to be a man who has his own philosophies and ideas which he will stick to through good or bad. He will make bold decisions that need to be made and he will go through with them. We have already seen a marked improvement in this transfer window with the precise and no nonsense signings of Ander Herrera from Athletic in Spain and Southampton’s left back prodigy Luke Shaw. Both players who fit van Gaals philosophy perfectly. This in stark contrast to the mindless, panicked acquisition of Marouane Fellaini last August. With more signings rumoured to be on the way this could finally be the window many United fans have been looking forward to when the team is revamped.
With van Gaal now at the helm and a United legend in Ryan Giggs by his side we can expect to see fireworks once more at Old Trafford. A new, exciting brand of football, more powerful and direct than last year and it may not be wise to bet against the new man regaining some of Manchester United’s glory.