Van Gaal’s Top 5 Tasks At Man Utd
Premier League 2014/15
It’s clear than Louis van Gaal plans to get stuck right in as Manchester United boss when his reign with Holland ends on Saturday night.
Here are some of the most pressing issues he must address.
Choose A Captain
It shows the dearth of leaders in the United squad when Van Gaal’s dilemma when choosing a captain is whether to plump for Wayne Rooney or his Dutch skipper Robin van Persie.
While strikers have traditionally been overlooked as captain material at Old Trafford, there are no obvious leaders in defence or midfield in the mould of Roy Keane, Nemanja Vidic, Steve Bruce or Bryan Robson.
If he is to award the armband to van Persie, how he handles Rooney – who’d been expecting to become captain under David Moyes – will be critical to morale amongst his two forwards.
Get Rid Of Deadwood
As aforementioned there’s a vast array of average talent at United that just aren’t good enough. Van Gaal’s snub to Alexander Buttner during his term as Dutch boss has already led to the left-back’s exit.
Anderson has returned from a loan spell with Fiorentina and will surely be dispatched for good if a willing suitor can be found.
The manager may want to run the rule over fringe players before making a decision on them but it’s unlikely the likes of Nani and Ashley Young will remain at Old Trafford. Nevertheless, it was a surprise when Antonio Valencia was handed a new contract recently after a couple of below-par seasons at the club.
Strengthen Key Areas
Van Gaal has wasted now time in sanctioning deals for Luke Shaw and Ander Herrera but there remain several other key positions that require strengthening.
The most pressing is centre-back – with Vidic and Rio Ferdinand departed there is a distinct lack of experience in central defence. Mats Hummels has been consistently linked and seems to be open to a move. Meanwhile a world class central midfielder is crucial, a position that’s been inexplicably neglected since Roy Keane’s departure almost nine years ago.
United’s hopes of a deal for Juventus’ Arturo Vidal seem to have strengthened with news that the Old Lady are keen on bringing Patrice Evra to Turin as part of any deal.
Improve Home Form
United’s shocking home record under David Moyes was the main reason for their disastrous season last term.
The aura of invincibility at Old Trafford faded quickly under the Scot, and what was once a fortress became a place to pick up a handy three points.
United averaged just 1.58 points per game at home last season, their worst record in over ten years. Meanwhile, their away form was amongst the best in the division, something van Gaal will have to replicate at Old Trafford to have any hope of breaking back into the top four.
David Moyes certainly wasn’t a man with a plan and didn’t seem to have a clear vision of how he wanted United to play. Indeed, he picked 51 different line-ups in the 51 matches of his ill-fated tenure.
Van Gaal will need to stamp his mark on a team who suffered from a complete identity crisis throughout 2013/14.
His tactical flexibility at the World Cup and throughout his managerial career suggests this should not be a problem.
Valencia’s new contract, Luke Shaw’s signature and his preferred formation with the Oranje hint at the use of wing-backs in the coming season. Whether he has the talent to deploy a three-man defence against the top sides is another question.