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How will Man United look under Louis van Gaal? – Part Three: The Attack

Genuine width on the flanks Considering the furore surrounding Juan Mata?s redeployment to the flanks under Moyes, it?s somewhat ironic that his natural place in the supposedly more progressive Van Gaal?s system could also be out wide. The Dutchman prefers his creative midfield focus to be somewhat robust and diligent in defence, hence why the [...]The post How will Man United look under Louis van Gaal? ? Part Three: The Attack appeared first on Squawka News.

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Genuine width on the flanks

Considering the furore surrounding <Juan Mata’s redeployment to the flanks under Moyes, it’s somewhat ironic that his natural place in the supposedly more progressive Van Gaal’s system could also be out wide.

The Dutchman prefers his creative midfield focus to be somewhat robust and diligent in defence, hence why the hard-working Rooney and Kagawa have been listed in the previous slide over the Spaniard. Instead,  the former Chelsea playmaker could be pushed into a role somewhat familiar to him from his time playing as a winger at Valencia.

With his full-backs holding their positions, and the midfield three pushing forward with support from stepped up centre-back, Van Gaal’s wingers are the primary providers of width within his 4-3-3 set up.

That doesn’t mean that his men on the flanks are reduced to being one-dimensional crossing factories, however. For the Netherlands, Arjen Robben stretches the play before executing his trademark cuts inside to either take a shot or pop a ball through for a teammate to take advantage of. A similar sort of behaviour could allow Mata to play a more elaborate role out wide. Otherwise, Danny Welbeck could continue to progress as a flank forward on the left. His speed, intelligence and versatility are likely to endear him to his new manager.

A similar story on the right

On the right, Antonio Valencia may yet have a role to play under Van Gaal, even as many write off the one-dimensional Ecuadorian as a definite sale this summer. His industrious running and strong deliveries when on form could make him an important, functional figure within the Dutchman’s plans.

Seeing how he makes use of and develops Adnan Januzaj looks set to be one of the most exciting features of Van Gaal’s reign, with the Belgian capable of playing on the left or right. Given his new coach’s admiration for Robben, it’s possible that the left-footed Januzaj could be moulded in a similar fashion, with a roaming remit to create or score from the flanks wherever he can do the most damage.

There’s also talk that Nani could be returned to the fold given his exceptional technique and dribbling skills. His decision making has always been the winger’s greatest weakness, and remains a problem, but it will be interested to see the effect that a major confidence boost has on the Portuguese should Van Gaal  trust in his quality.

A single, Dutch striker

When fit, Robin van Persie will be the first name on Van Gaal’s team sheet, occupying the centre-forward role within his three-man front line.

As United witnessed last year, when deployed as his team’s focal point, the striker provides far more than just goals, with his touches, link up play and passing all helping to augment the threats posed by those around him.

Playing <Rooney deeper and Van Persie up top has looked like a more efficient use of the Man United’s resources for much of the season, especially given that with the Dutch striker at the helm, the club broke the record for the number of different goalscorers in one season in 2013: 20. The combination of the Englishman’s intuitive creativity from deep and his usurper’s tidier, more refined skill on the ball, lead to a slew of inventive chances used well rather than lost to a fumbled boot or heavy touch.

 

Rooney would of course be a ready replacement during any injury down time, especially given his form as an out-and-oute attacker of late, but he is no longer the best man for the job, full-time.

It may sound harsh to say that anything Rooney can do, Van Persie can do better, but to a large degree it’s true. The Dutchman’s lay-offs, feints, hold up play and ability to beat defenders is superior and less prone to lapses of clumsiness or poor technique.

How Van Gaal’s 4-3-3 system could look at United

Players in bold are likely to be first choice.

Sweeper keeper: David de Gea

Left-back: New signing, Patrice Evra

Centre-back: Jonny EvansPhil Jones, Chris Smalling, Michael Keane

Right-back: Rafael, new signing

Defensive midfield: Carrick, new signing, Darren Fletcher, Marouane Fellaini

Box-to-box midfield: New signing, Darren Fletcher, Tom Cleverley

Attacking midfield: Wayne Rooney, Shinji Kagawa, Tom Cleverley

Left wing: Juan Mata, Danny Welbeck, Ashley Young

Right wing: Adnan Januzaj, Antonio Valencia, Nani

Striker: Robin van Persie, Wayne Rooney, Danny Welbeck, Javier Hernandez

Published with permission from Squawka News.

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