Belfast Telegraph

Information overload for Red Devils

Louis van Gaal thinks he may have bamboozled his players with too much information in the opening two months of his reign as Manchester United manager.

Van Gaal enjoyed a near-perfect tour of the United States, but since the competitive season began, the Dutchman has endured a miserable set of results.

United go into Saturday's match against West Ham having collected just five points from five matches - their worst start in Premier League history.

Van Gaal has implemented many changes on and off the pitch since he took charge on July 16.

He has tinkered with the team's formation, he has been at pains to implement his "philosophy", and he has also made several alterations at the club's training ground.

Van Gaal insists all his changes will benefit the team in the long run, but he accepts he may have over-loaded the players with too much information too quickly.

"We give (the players) a lot of information and you have to work out that information," said the United manager, who watched his team crumble to a 5-3 defeat at Leicester last weekend.

"There shall be a moment in the season that this information is not too much. At this moment maybe it is too much for the players.

"It's very difficult because we are starting with a new team and a new relationship between players so that's why it needs time."

Although the season is just six weeks old, Van Gaal believes United's fans are already "very tired" of hearing their manager plead for patience.

Ahead of the game against Sam Allardyce's team, Van Gaal hit back at suggestions he was wrong to spend the majority of his budget on attacking players.

Ruud Gullit and Gary Neville suggested last week that Van Gaal had made a mistake in defence by just buying Luke Shaw and Marcos Rojo when experienced heads like Patrice Evra, Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic were allowed to leave.

United's defence now looks even weaker as Jonny Evans, Chris Smalling and Phil Jones are all injured while Tyler Blackett is suspended.

United were interested in signing Mats Hummels earlier this summer, but they were quickly warned off making a bid by Borussia Dortmund.

"Maybe we were at the market in August for a right-sided central defender," Van Gaal said at his pre-match press conference.

"You never know. But I don't want to discuss that."

Van Gaal denies the lack of experience at centre-back is a problem for United.

"My concern is never the age of the experience, my concern is the profile," Van Gaal added.

"You have to fit the profile.

"There are a lot of defenders in this world, but I don't want to buy (just) any defenders.

"Age is not so important. With the Dutch national team I played with Bruno Martins Indi and Stefan de Vrij, they were 21 and 22.

"And until Leicester we only had three goals against in spite of the fact we were not playing so well but our defensive organisation was good."

Van Gaal, who may have to hand a debut to 19-year-old defender Paddy McNair on Saturday, said he was aware that Evans and Jones both had a history with injuries before he took the job.

The United boss claims his training methods will make them less susceptible to fitness problems in the future.

"I have been told (about their injury history), and now they are confirming (it) but I have good hopes that we shall improve in that matter because normally I don't have any injury problems," he said.

"For a good example I had Arjen Robben (at Bayern Munich). He had injuries before but not under me.

"We helped him by training sessions. And we are doing that here in the same way."

In the build-up to the match, Allardyce said United's £150million transfer splurge showed the club was in "panic" mode.

When asked whether that was the case, Van Gaal responded: "No."


From Belfast Telegraph