Louis van Gaal needs to solve the dilemma surrounding Manchester United
Two wins in two Premier League matches should please Louis van Gaal after a summer of several activities that has been a mixed bag of situations. Manchester United's start has been laboured but that was enough to see off Tottenham Hotspur and Aston Villa respectively. Louis van Gaal knows he has to sort out several issues his team is facing both on and off the field in order to concentrate solely on a challenge for a title this season.
After managing to secure a fourth place finish in the Premier League last term, major concerns had been regarding on how will the club react in getting an all-round team who could be a threat to fellow league rivals in addition with the Champions League. United face Belgium's Club Brugge on Tuesday in the first of the two-legged Champions League play-off. Van Gaal will be wary of the threat their opponents will pose given the spectacle of Europe's biggest competition.
A successive summer of major upheaval has been noticed at United with several high-profile players making an exit with the likes of Robin van Persie, Radamel Falcao and Angel di Maria leading that line. Other fringe players too were shown the door and five players made their way into the team as Van Gaal made an effort to strengthen his resources. Bastian Schweinsteiger, Morgan Schneirderlin, Memphis Depay, Matteo Darmian and Sergio Romero were these five players.
The summer has seen the club getting entangled in major issues from Angel di Maria transfer, the David de Gea saga and LVG's fall out with Victor Valdes that has shown some weak links in the United armor. What matters most is the season already having kicked on, Van Gaal has plenty in his platter to sort out and address. The manager's tactics will be under the spotlight and he will hope his team settles down quickly to ease these uncertaintiesLouis van Gaal needs to solve the dilemma sorrounding Manchester United.
We look at some of the concerns United have found themselves in and what could be in store as the season intensifies from here on.
Van Gaal unsure of his best team: Two matches old this new season and Louis van Gaal has gone in with a 4-2-3-1 formation rather than his proposed 4-3-3, which he said he was looking to employ this season. With Wayne Rooney leading the attack as the lone striker, United tried out Memphis Depay and Adnan Januzaj in the No. 10 role. While Memphis looks better off as a winger, Januzaj impressed with a goal against Aston Villa but his future at Old Trafford is unsure as a loan deal to Sunderland could manifest in the coming days.
Marouane Fellaini is suspended and once he returns,Van Gaal will have more options against top teams to field the big Belgian in the No. 10 role. In the absence of Fellaini, United's option to fire in balls from crosses seem limited.
Van Gaal wants to identify the perfect combination with Wayne Rooney upfront. In the second half of both the matches, Van Gaal deployed a 4-3-3 with Bastian Schweinsteiger and Ander Herrera coming in. Will we see 4-3-3 being used more which is the manager's preferred formation or will he stick to 4-2-3-1? There is also an option of 4-1-4-1 that was used a lot last term with Fellaini and Herrera behind Rooney.
Moreover the sale of star player Angel di Maria to Paris Saint-Germain just after a year, means Memphis will have to step up and deliver if given the left flank role. Barcelona's Pedro has been linked and his arrival could change the set up even further.
Goalkeeping situation: A picture of David de Gea, Victor Valdes and Anders Lindegaard in the Director's box at Old Trafford in the opening day of the Premier League season showed the vulnerability United are in regarding the position.
The biggest of this problem in the goalkeeping role lies with David de Gea and United's failure to sort out the situation much earlier in the summer presents a sad taste of reality. De Gea who is expected to join Real Madrid has seen two bids already turned down by United with both values being considerably low.
The club wanted Sergio Ramos in exchange most part of the summer but that didn't materalise. Now there is a sticky situation with De Gea who has been left out of United's squad in the first two games and this run is expected to continue until the transfer window shuts down.
There is also no guarantee that De Gea will be drafted straight back into the squad. Neither there is a sure possibility whether the young keeper will join Real this summer as they are unwilling to match De Gea's valuation and prefer a free transfer next summer.
Van Gaal who had earlier praised De Gea's professionalism in handling the transfer saga well, wasn't convinced by the Spaniard since his poor outing against PSG in the pre-season tour of USA. With all being said of his lack of concentration and focus in training out in the media so easily, Van Gaal has presented a confused situation for all parties involved. United want De Gea to stay for this year but want all of this sorted out before September 1.
If De Gea leaves then it will be interesting whom does the club get as they need a proven keeper to fight for a place with new recruit Sergio Romero.
Victor Valdes' fall out with Van Gaal ended what could be a new lease of second chapter for the former Barcelona goalkeeper. Valdes who is training with the U-16s, is expected to leave but so far there hasn't been any suitors.
Van Gaal has flirted with depth in striking and defensive sectors: Louis van Gaal was pegged by consistent injuries to his defenders last season, and that resulted in a chaotic situation at the back. This time Van Gaal will hope his injury list lessens, given he has the same personnel in his ranks.
The purchase of Matteo Darmian has been a smart move as a right back, but failing to add a top class centre half could see United in a tricky situation.
Failure to get a recognised name so far means United's approach against top quality teams will look nervy. The Dutchman's experimentation of Daley Blind as a left footed central defender has been a major surprise. But it will be interesting to see whether Blind will be there all season.
The other options then are Marcos Rojo, Johnny Evans, Tyler Blackett and an injury prone Phil Jones. It looks like the defense will be based around Chris Smalling and his fitness and continuous run of games will have a major impact.
United lack a leader at the back in defense and with De Gea being excluded the combination play and stability look disbalanced.
Just as defence the striking force looks thin. Wayne Rooney has been a frustrated figure in first two games given his lack of touch and involvement. As the season progresses, an unfit or an out of form Wayne Rooney means they don't have a star replacement to get the goals. Javier Hernandez hasn't played much with Real Madrid last season, and James Wilson is too young.
Van Gaal has brushed off all queries regarding this situation and that means he feels his present force can deliver after the departures of Van Persie and Falcao.
All this leaves the packed midfield that looks like to be rotated often, and the various attacking players to create and share the scoring responisbility. Wayne Rooney has been assigned to get to the 20-goal mark and if he doesn't United will have problems.