At the start of the season, whenever Man Utd played a match (especially at old trafford), there was always a sense of exasperation among the Man Utd fans. The reasons were plenty: is it going to be 4-4-2, 3-5-2, 4-3-3? And the most common expression used to be ‘Now who is injured!!’ Van Gaal was given the resurrection job after the disastrous Moyes era. Van Gaal said that he would require a period of 3 months for Man Utd to play his way. There were constant comparisons to the Fergie era which have continued and need to be stopped. The time has come for Manchester United fans(Yeah me to!!) to let go of the Sir Alex Ferguson reign and stop judging this new era by former glories. There was no way Van Gaal was going to come to Manchester United and adopt somebody else’s philosophy.
Van Gaal’s appointment also saw the addition of players like Herrera, Blind, Rojo, Shaw, the loan of Falcao and then Di Maria. With such expensive additions, fans expected immediate results but it was not to be. There were several injuries especially to Jones, Smalling, Shaw due to which he could not play a fixed formation. With 3 world class strikers, Van Gaal had to find a formation to accommodate all of them. He resorted to do so by deploying Rooney in a midfield role along with his go to man Daley Blind as he did not trust Herrera or Fellaini and Carrick was injured.
Ashley Young was given a new lifeline by Van Gaal as he excelled in a wingback role and so did Valencia (even though he made some glaring mistakes against Aresnal). There was a streak where united were unbeaten for 7 matches but the attacking brand of football that was associated with United was missing. However with strict practise regime and Van Gaal’s funda of rewarding the players who perform encouraged players like Fellaini, Mata, Herrera, Jones, Smalling to pull up their socks and the results as well as the style of football has improved.
With Carrick coming back and finding his feet quickly, Rooney was back to his favourite position. Carrick’s role is very important as his vision and simple passing was sorely missed by Man Utd. Van Gaal started playing to Fellaini’s strengths of long ball which was criticised but its reaping benefits with the Belgian now a very confident player. Juan Mata, who was benched for most of the matches, was played along with Herrera and the 2 spaniards interchanged passes beautifully. Jones and Smalling were reinstated in defence and they gave a commanding performance. All this was seen both during the home match against Tottenham and the away match against Liverpool where United played an attractive brand of football and 4-2-3-1 formation.
So commanding was United’s performance at Old Trafford that the commentator said and I quote “Tottenham is looking like teams that visited Old Trafford during Fergie era and United looks like the team that United were during the Fergie era”. And let’s also not forget how easily we brushed aside Liverpool at anfield. The season looks to be turning for the better with the performances improving substantially.