Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

This Was the Turning Point in United's Season It Allowed Van Gaal to Build His New-Look Team

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

This Was the Turning Point in United's Season It Allowed Van Gaal to Build His New-Look Team

Article excerpt

Byline: Paul Scholes

IHAVE been critical of my old club Manchester United under Louis van Gaal this season and I have to say I did not see this change in fortune coming. To the extent that when they go to Chelsea tomorrow, I think they have a good chance of winning.

When I look back on the key changes, I still feel that Angel Di Maria's red card against Arsenal was critical in allowing Van Gaal to build this new-look team. When I look at the side it seems to be a triumph of the underdog Juan Mata, Marouane Fellaini, Ashley Young. All of whom looked like they could be out of the picture at the start of the season but are now having a big impact.

The formation is bold. It is much more attacking and more what I expected of Van Gaal when he arrived. There is a spine of four players Michael Carrick, Ander Herrera, Fellaini and Wayne Rooney that runs through the middle. Then Young and Mata wide. I wonder whether Carrick will be fit to start against Chelsea, which might mean Daley Blind moving back into midfield.

For all the attention on Fellaini and Young after the derby win over Manchester City, a lot of the credit has to go to Mata. He has given United such composure. He is not a winger, in the conventional sense, but he comes inside and gets involved in the game. He always passes to a red shirt and he is so cool, as you saw with his finish against City.

When I was coaching under Ryan Giggs at the end of last season, we always felt Fellaini's best position was as an unorthodox No10 the role he is playing now. When he joined United, David Moyes played him as a central midfielder but I don't think controlling the game from there is Fellaini's biggest strength.

When I played against him when he was at Everton, he was a giant nuisance: elbows up, big and strong and always liable to peel off and take up a position at the back post. …

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