Pedestrian and mismatch tactics catalyst for Van Gaal’s exit from United


Louis Van Gaal’s reign at Old Trafford finally comes to an end, with no face in England in debt of surprise. There were few concerns of how United were going forward in the last two seasons, Van Gaal’s tactics were just not good enough of the standard set by great Sir Alex Ferguson.

United were known for diamond 4-4-2 formation for many years under Sir Alex, it was quite a trend-setter for many teams who wanted to accommodate two centre-forwards along with a midfield diamond consisting of a defensive midfielder, two wide midfielders and a number 10 which can drop deep to play out possession and link play.

Van Gaal is totally different in that regards, he used formations aplenty at Old Trafford since his arrival in June 2014. He hardly used the two-striker policy in his formations.

He mainly used 4-1-4-1 or 4-2-3-1 shapes, he has tried 3-5-2 and 3-4-3 on few occasions too. If a manager is using these many formations and he’s just in his second year in-charge, the alarm bell is ringing big time for him. He’s struggling to get a hold on his philosophies and his methods are not matching with the formations he’s fielding.

Whatever formation you choose, balance has to be the key thing in it, Van Gaal never managed to get that balance between the defence and attack. He’s known for his possession football policy and get fullbacks high enough to stretch the opposition in wider areas. He wants his defensive midfielder to go in between the centre-backs and drive the possession from there.

At Old Trafford you don’t expect a home team to just play deep and do tick–tock sideways passing and occasionally get the ball in wide areas where crossing is awful enough to be cleared. That pedestrianisation came into the game with this, opposition were happy to concede possession and hit on the counter. Old  Trafford witnessed more 0-0s in the last two seasons than in four previous seasons, that’s an alarming fact given the attacking flair this club had just three seasons back.

An instance when a game against Wolfsburg in Germany was played, United had to win that game to seal their progress through to next round of the Champions League this season, Van Gaal went with an attacking 4-1-4-1 lineup and went onto lose that game 3-2. United were much much better in that game attacking wise and were able to carve out defence, but the problem was defence that day, they played with good freedom but left gaps too many in defence for Wolfsburg to pounce on. United fans and pundits loved that attacking flair in the game but were equally disappointed by the fact that the mismatch in tactics was not solved by their manager.

Van Gaal after that never went with attacking flaired team, again that possession based pedestrian game which drew criticism.

So, end of the season regardless of FA Cup result, Van Gaal was never gonna be accepted by the United fans, he struggled to make that telling impact in his managerial time here in Manchester.

Four results that had the most impact in Van Gaal departure :-

1.) Manchester United didn’t challenge for the title even with no Champions League football in 2014-15 season, club gave him more money next season as the Dutchman pointed out that it was his first season and the club was in transition.

2.) United were knocked out of the group stage in the Champions League this season with relatively easy teams in it. That really had big impact on his future.

3.) United lost out to Liverpool in last 16 of Europa League.

4.) Finishing outside the top 4 this season after being given over 250 million to rebuild this squad.

These things just sum up how United performed when big stage arrived, they just couldn’t perform in those stages, Van Gaal has to be the responsible party in it and is rightly not in the hot-seat of Old Trafford.

By Mizgan Ahmed on 24th May, 2016

Twitter – @mizgans

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