Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

I like Van Gaal's New System but I Fear It Is Not Right for His Players

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

I like Van Gaal's New System but I Fear It Is Not Right for His Players

Article excerpt

Byline: Paul Scholes

THE last chance of a trophy for Manchester United this season passed with defeat to Arsenal in the FA Cup on Monday, and for the first time since 1987-1989 the club will go two consecutive seasons without a major trophy. But come this weekend, that will pale in comparison to the worries about Champions League qualification.

United's fixtures for the final 10 games of the season look far from straightforward, starting with Tottenham on Sunday and then Liverpool away the following weekend. They still have to play Chelsea and Everton away and Arsenal at home. Realistically Arsenal, United, Liverpool and Spurs are competing for the last two Champions League places, with Southampton the outsiders, and I have already said I feel that Liverpool are favourites for third.

Watching United at Old Trafford on Monday, I know what Louis van Gaal is trying to do with this team. I like the concept. I just question whether he has the players to do it.

In recent weeks, Van Gaal has tried a more Barcelona-style approach to games. His centre-backs push wide, the full-backs push on and the team pass the ball. It has worked against the weaker teams but it is against the stronger sides that you have to wonder whether it will be found out.

To play this way, you really need to be exceptional. Barcelona can do it because they have the players. United have spent around PS220m in the last three transfer windows and yet I would question whether they have the players to operate this system.

Against Arsenal, there were times United went more direct to Marouane Fellaini but not as much as might be expected. What other reason was he in the team? At least it gave United a chance to play in their opponents' half. It might be a bit prehistoric, and there is no chance Van Gaal will want to do it long term, but if United keep playing the way they are, they will be found out against better sides. …

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