Van Gaal too obsessed with the 3-5-2 formation
It was the big stage, the dreamland of the football world, the Football World Cup 2014. Netherlands were drawn in a group which had Spain and Chile as their competitors and going through to the next round seemed to be a tough task. Although finalist of the last edition, Netherlands had only four survivors from that team and they were almost written off from the competition by many. Come Netherlands vs Spain, the rematch of sorts for both and Netherlands did what everyone had expected Spain to do – destroy the opponents. They beat Spain by a huge margin of 5-1 and from there the 3-5-2 was revered more than it has ever been.
Van Gaal used this formation to bring out the maximum from whatever he had and this ploy worked amazingly well with the Dutch team. Then Van Gaal joined Manchester United in the pre-season and used the same formation in the first few matches. He had some unbelievable results in the pre-season, remarkably well as compared to David Moyes’ pre-season, and as a result the 3-5-2 formation seemed to be the solution for this United team. Van Gaal as well as the fans agreed on the fact that the Reds had found the right formula to go ahead. All the hopes of the team doing well were shelved after the first few league matches of the season.
What happened? Manchester United lost the first league match of the season and is yet to acquire a win in the league. The 3-5-2 formation has been a disaster and the players haven’t had as many goals or chances on goals that they should have. The sudden change in fortunes for Van Gaal was because he failed to understand that after signing Angel Di Maria, Ander Herrera, Luke Shaw, Marcos Rojo, Daley Blind, and Radamel Falcao he needed a more attacking and dynamic formation to take the team ahead. He does not need the ‘maximum optimization of the available resources’ formula now that he has world-class players that the Reds badly needed.
The Reds have trained extensively in the 3-5-2 formation since a month before the premier league started and the same formation was shelved after just 45 minutes into the Swansea City game. The first half performance was awful and adding that to some injuries, United went back to the 4-3-3 formation. The 3-5-2 critics hoped that it was the last they had seen of that formation but that was not to be. Van Gaal came out with the same tactics in the next two matches and could extract only 2 points from the expected 6. Ander Herrera, Juan Mata and Darren Fletcher have all looked uncomfortable with the formation and been giving too much space to the opposition. Van Gaal needs to rectify this mistake and work to this strengths to increase his chances of winning.
The next Premier league feature for United is now on 14th September because of the long international break and the Reds Manager would be expected to think on his strategy and get solutions to the tactical problem that United face.