Manchester United – A Devilish Efficiency
Manchester United seems to re-become a real force in Premier League. After the disastrous last season in which Man Utd did not manage to qualify in any European competition, Louis Van Gaal was brought in to save the sinking ship. After 10 matches in Premier League Louis Van Gaal’s Manchester United was lying on an incredible 1oth place. Fortunately, the fate favored the 63 years old Dutch manager and he managed to lead Man United to the podium (after six consecutive wins – 2 of them against Arsenal and Liverpool).
The Red Devils managed to transform themselves like a Phoenix bird under Van Gaal’s reign. After the 1-0 defeat against Manchester City, Manchester United won 6 consecutive matches that moved them from the 10th position to the third, 8 points behind the leader – Chelsea. Even though 8 points is quite a difference, there are still a lot of matches and Mourinho’s side showed that 8 points is not a comfortable lead because City immediately caught them back. But what happened with Man United, to perform such a comeback during the mid-season?
Louis Van Gaal tried to impose his 3-5-2 formation at Manchester United, but in the beginning the team was not quite prepared for such a change. Unfortunately, Van Gaal was followed by his curse on Old Trafford and many players got injured. The Dutch manager had to improvise and send in defense the youngsters Blackett or McNair and reprofile as wingbacks players like Antonio Valencia and Ashley Young. There was also a problem of homogeneity at Manchester United because 5 players where signed during the summer mercato period and all of them needed some time to adapt to Premier League’s style. Manchester United had a disappointing start of the season with 2 draws and 1 loss in the first 3 matches and Van Gaal decided to switch from his favorite 3-5-2 formation to a more conservative 4-4-2 diamond tactic. After 4 matches (3 wins and 1 shameful defeat against Leicester), Van Gaal changed again the tactic to a 4-2-3-1 formation. With so many experiments regarding the formation it is understandable why United’s players were unable to perform well and were always inconsistent. Manchester United still remains an unknown for any manager because Louis Van Gaal changes the tactic every 2 matches or so.
The moment when Manchester United showed signs of recovery was the match against Chelsea, when the Red Devils managed to bag 1 point after Van Persie’s late equalizer. What is more interesting is the fact that United’s best form in this season is marked by a devilish efficiency. Manchester United scored 2 goals against Arsenal (out of 3 shots on goal), scored 3 against Hull (out of 5 shots on goal), scored 2 against Stoke (out of 4 shots on goal) and scored 2 against Southampton (out of 3 shots in total). Quite an efficiency! United is not playing an entertaining football (as many expected from Van Gaal), but rather an efficient one. The Red Devils do not dominate the game, do not have the possession, but their strikers are clinical in front of the goal, scoring every time the chance arises. Many say that Manchester United is very lucky, because the opposition miss a lot of chances, while Man United scores from nothing. The efficiency in the offensive compartment is due to the fact that Robin Van Persie is starting to be become instrumental again, scoring every time he has the chance and creating key chances for his teammates. Wayne Rooney is also very important for Manchester United, being hard to marked by the opposition and the Englishman has the ability to create spaces for his teammates.
However, Louis Van Gaal has a huge problem in finding the right formation in defense. Manchester United’s defense line is quite injury prone and few consecutive matches find the same defensive line-up. The Dutch manager has serious problems because the defenders are doing a lot of mistakes, but luckily for them the opposition is not able to score. Manchester United allowed 17 goals in Premier League, but the opposition created far more goal chances. One man is more important that Robin Van Persie and that one is David De Gea. De Gea managed to make some spectacular saves every match and repaired all the wrongdoings of his teammates. The 24 years old Spanish goalkeeper was instrumental for Manchester United against Arsenal, Southampton and Liverpool making some incredible saves that kept the Devils in front.
Manchester United is a team that needs to be reconstructed. Louis Van Gaal is the right manager to accomplish such a complex task and bring back the success from Fergusson era. The Dutch manager managed to create a very efficient Manchester United, a team that relies on David de Gea to repair the mistakes in defense. United also relies on Van Persie’s inspiration, a player that seems to have regained his form. The Red Devils definitely showed that they did not forget their spirit and managed to beat Arsenal and Liverpool and drawed with Chelsea. Van Gaal’s team shows sign of recovery and it is very likely that it will finish on the third position in Premier League.