Louis van Gaal: 4-3-3 is my preferred formation

by Richard Laverty

Louis van Gaal has confirmed 4-3-3 is his preferred formation at Manchester United, despite rarely using it during his first season at Old Trafford.

United began life under Van Gaal playing a 3-5-2 system similar to the one employed by the manager during the 2014 World Cup with the Netherlands last summer, with unpredictable consequences.

In pre-season, United were rampant against the likes of Roma, Liverpool and Real Madrid to failed to win any of their first three league games and losing 4-0 to MK Dons in the League Cup.

The Dutchman then tried out a diamond system which made United much better offensively but shambolic at the back and Van Gaal has been trying to find the right balance ever since.

Things clicked against Tottenham last weekend, United roaring into a 3-0 lead using the preferred 4-3-3 formation and the manager confirmed on Friday the formation has a future at Old Trafford.

“The system we play now is the system that I prefer, that I have played everywhere. Yesterday (against Spurs) is my preferred system,” said Van Gaal.

“When it is needed, then I play with five at the back. Yesterday was 4-3-3 when we had the ball. For example, Juan (Mata) more inside and (Ashley) Young outside. When we defend it was more 4-1-4-1 yesterday. Next game is different.”

However, there is still work to be done as United went out of the FA Cup with largely the same system less than a week before, struggling to create the chances they did against Tottenham and it remains to be seen whether United will line-up against Liverpool in the same way on Sunday.

Van Gaal also hinted his players have a say in how United play but wouldn’t go as far as saying they have influenced his decision to go back to basics.

“I am the most flexible manager you can imagine. When the players are coming with good arguments, I change my opinion.”

He listens to players? “Yes. They need to have very good arguments. It is not so easy to convince me – that’s true. But when you convince me I change my opinion.”

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