Red Devils Advocate: Louis Van Gaal Is To Blame

We are now over half way through Louis van Gaal’s first season in charge at Old Trafford and thus far it certainly hasn’t been an easy one. United find themselves sat in third place and many would argue they are fortunate to do so, having experienced very poor and inconsistent form and an abundance of injuries. They are not safe, however, and after the midweek fixtures, Southampton, Arsenal, Tottenham and Liverpool are snapping at their heels. The issue surrounding this season is what has gone wrong? With a host of big name signings and an incredibly successful manager, how have United found themselves struggling in the way that they are?

Van Gaal is to blame. Firstly, since taking the reins at Manchester United he has struggled to adopt a tactical formation that specifically works for the team, his infamous back three style of play failed miserably due to the lack of defensive quality and this was plain to see, weeks before van Gaal did anything to change it. It was obvious that young and mostly inexperienced players like Phil Jones, Tyler Blackett and even Jonny Evans looked incapable of the simplest defending.

The tactical flaws of his Manchester United side are also evident in attack. On transfer deadline day, when they were on the verge of signing striker Radamel Falcao, they were criticised for their lack of defensive signings, but they were also seen to be signing too many offensive players. With the addition of Falcao and the club record signing Angel di Maria, to a front line that already included the world class talent of Wayne Rooney, Robin van Persie and Juan Mata, the general consensus was that the Red Devils would be truly unstoppable but thus far we have seen very little to prove it. How can a side that contains so many world class attacking talents struggle to even breakdown the defence of low league teams like Yeovil and Cambridge? It is because the players are being utilised in unnatural positions.

Despite a fantastic start to life in Manchester, Angel di Maria has looked stale in his latest performances. One can only argue that this is down to him often being played out of position. Van Gaal’s experimental formations have rarely allowed di Maria to play in his preferred central position and instead he has found himself on the wing or even upfront. It seems like a true waste of amazing talent to not get the most of him when the answer is so simple and could reignite United’s creative spark. Wayne Rooney is another player that is suffering due to being played out of position. Ironically he is being deployed in midfield, further back than his preferred position, however it is a position that would suit di Maria. Switching the two players appears to make a lot of logical sense and has been noticed by nearly every pundit and newspaper columnist across the country, which begs the question, why has the change not been made or even tested?

Anyone who has watched United this season will have recognised the need for change. Each performance has been dull and lacklustre, while they have sured up at the back, going forward there is no creativity and they struggle to breakdown any opposition as shown by the inability to score away at Cambridge United. While the players may benefit from a confidence boost and a change in mentality, that is the responsibility of the manager to create. Although United find themselves in third place, this is because of their ability to pick up points despite their performances. The joy of watching United’s fast pace attacking football has been replaced by slow labouring build up to nothing. The squad would benefit from Louis van Gaal changing his flawed tactics for a style of play that suits the players Manchester United currently have, then we might see some creativity and prosperity return to Old Trafford as the Red Devils look to secure their Champions League place and build upon it next season.

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