Van Gaal remaining strict on philosophy

by Richard Laverty

Louis van Gaal once again remained un-flustered when asked about changing the shape of his Manchester United side against Cambridge.

Due to several injuries over the winter period, United reverted back to a largely unpopular 3-5-2 formation before Christmas after a brief run of good performances playing a diamond system earlier in the season.

But no supporter could fairly suggest United’s defence looked secure and despite some apparent confusion in terms of organisation playing three at the back, United haven’t conceded more than one goal in a game since the beginning of October.

However, there is no doubt it is hindering United’s attacks. The team failed to register a single shot on target against Southampton and also lacked any creativity against League One side Yeovil. Against QPR, United scored within minutes of changing to a back four but there is no suggestion from Van Gaal that 3-5-2 has gone for good.

“We have played the 4-4-2 diamond shape for five or six games and we have created a lot of chances, but we have also conceded a few goals against us and that is the balance of the team,” he told MUTV on Thursday.

“At this moment I am strict on our philosophy. Everyone has to perform in that philosophy.”

In defence of Van Gaal, United do look much more open at the back when not playing a 3-5-2 system but there is also no doubt the team look much likelier to score when reverting to a diamond.

It’s a tricky one for the manager as it does appear there are negatives to both formations and van Gaal will continue to look for a way to make United attack well and defend well all in one go.

With Rafael out of favour, there appears little chance of van Gaal playing four at the back without a permanent right-back and there are suggestions the club have stepped up their chase for Nathaniel Clyne.

With a diamond leaving his defence exposed, van Gaal will also want a new centre-back before trusting his team to play four at the back as well as a top class midfielder, with Kevin Strootman continuing to be the prime target.

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