Belfast Telegraph

Louis Van Gaal sees way forward for Manchester United

But van Gaal says formation changes have not helped as side edge past Palace

By Miguel Delaney

Louis van Gaal has admitted he may have changed Manchester United's formation "too much" in his first 11 Premier League games at the club, but insisted he retains a "clear vision" for the team.

For Saturday's 1-0 home win over Crystal Palace saw the Dutch coach continued with the 4-1-4-1same formation from the previous week's defeat to Manchester City - his third formation of the season so far - but with more tinkering as Daley Blind had to be moved to centre-back.

That finally gave Van Gaal his fourth win as United manager, and just his third clean sheet, but came at the cost of attacking verve.

There was a dismal pedestrian style to the side's play reminiscent of the worst of David Moyes' time. It was also the opposite of the recent games Van Gaal oversaw against West Ham United and Everton, when freewheeling attacking was offset by porous defending.

He said finding a balance between the two is key, but that so many changes may not have helped.

"It's too much (change to formation) I think, I agree," the manager said after the game. "But I'm looking for the balance and when you see the last four matches, we have had more balance because we haven't conceded many goals. Nevertheless, we don't score so much. With the other system, we scored a lot of goals."

So many changes have raised questions over whether Van Gaal does actually have a plan. He was asked whether the three years he said he needs could be rockier than imagined, or whether he does have that clear vision.

"When I answer that I have a clear vision then you have to know I'm (considered) arrogant. But when you have seen what I have done in my career you have to know that I have a vision and that I'm very confident in it. I don't think this is arrogant. It is self-confidence, although not only confidence in myself but in my players, in the club, in the structure and organisation."

Van Gaal's faith in Juan Mata has been doubted and, although the playmaker started on the bench, he came off it to drive in a 67th-minute winner. That goal was set up by an Angel Di Maria pass, but Van Gaal then took the Argentine off precisely because of his lack of passing.

"He has played today in a very small space and he is a dribbler but sometimes you cannot dribble. You have to make it a pass game, and Di Maria is not a player who wants to give a pass every time he gets the ball. But in this case we needed that and not dribbles. Therefore he lost the ball a lot of times and that was not good for the balance of the team.

"Of course, we need to raise our level. It's a matter of time but it's also a matter of getting over a lot of injuries."

Meanwhile, home comforts have helped Luke Shaw finally find his feet at United.

United fans voted Shaw man of the match on Saturday after an energetic and uplifting display.

The 19-year-old impressed throughout and almost scored his first professional goal after a surging 50-yard run which started from his own half.

Shaw has endured a rocky start to his career at Old Trafford. He turned up to pre-season training out of shape and many questioned why the club had allowed long-serving left-back Patrice Evra to leave.

But four months on, he has found contentment.

"I feel at home now," the England left-back admits.

"Everyone has been really good with me, not just the players but the staff as well.

"They have made me feel really welcome and now I just want to keep on improving, working hard in training and get the best out of myself."

A key component in Shaw's improvement has, it seems, been the relocation of his parents from Surrey to the north-west.

"It's a new surrounding for me but the best thing is that my family have come up with me," said Shaw, who lived in digs with his young Southampton team-mates until his transfer.

Belfast Telegraph


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