King Louis can bring the smile back to Manchester United

Aug 08 2014, 11:30 IST
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Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal has quickly stamped his authority on a club desperate to return to the summit of English football. Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal has quickly stamped his authority on a club desperate to return to the summit of English football.
SummaryLouis Van Gaal has the swagger and substance to bring much more lasting success back to Manchester United.

Charismatic, assured and meticulous, Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal has quickly stamped his authority on a club desperate to return to the summit of English football.

After a dismal season under David Moyes, United acted quickly to appoint the experienced Dutchman to restore them to former glories and he has made an oustanding start.

Although critical of the demands of a long pre-season tour of the United States, Van Gaal led United to five wins out of five against opponents of the calibre of Real Madrid, AS Roma Inter Milan and Liverpool.

He decided to adopt the 5-3-2 formation he deployed with such success to lead the Netherlands to third place in the World Cup and the United players immediately embraced it.

Antonio Valencia, Luke Shaw and Ashley Young, a frustrated and peripheral figure under Moyes, relished the demands of the wing-back role so crucial to the success of the system.

Van Gaal made it clear from the start that Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney would be his two main strikers with Juan Mata operating in the number 10 position just behind them.

The diminutive Spaniard relished the responsibility of playing in his favoured position and with compatriot Ander Herrera providing tenacity and vision behind him the United midfield looked a cohesive unit once again.

A defence shorn of experienced stalwarts Nemanja Vidic, Rio Ferdinand and Patrice Evra also looked compact.

Only four goals were conceded in five matches, three of them penalties, and Phil Jones, Jonny Evans and Chris Smalling adapted quickly to the demands of the new formation.

Van Gaal will surely sign at least one experienced central defender, with German Mats Hummels and Belgian Thomas Vermaelen reported targets, but with Spanish goalkeeper David de Gea now firmly established the United rearguard has a solid look.

One of Van Gaal's most important attributes has been the confident way he has dealt with the media, a welcome relief for United fans after Moyes's haunted-looking and baffling performances in front of the cameras.

CONFIDENT SHOW

The 62-year-old Dutchman exuded confidence in his first Old Trafford news conference, recognising the size and rich history of the organisation he was joining embodied by former United player and current director Bobby Charlton.

He was not afraid to criticise the tour schedule nor to change the arrangements made, ordering officials to book the players into a Holiday Inn closer to their training facilities in Los Angeles rather than staying at the opulent Beverly Hills Plaza

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