Football’s worst kept secret was finally revealed to the world on Monday afternoon. Louis van Gaal is the new Manchester United manager, after signing a three-year deal at the club and will take over straight after the World Cup.
The current Netherlands national team boss will be assisted by Old Trafford stalwart and former interim manager, Ryan Giggs, who announced his retirement from professional football as Van Gaal’s appointment was announced.
It marks a new era in United’s illustrious history exactly a year after the great Sir Alex Ferguson announced his retirement. The Red Devils’ fans will be hoping that the Dutchman can bring success back to the club and make everyone forget about David Moyes’ disastrous reign.
Van Gaal brings with him a wealth of experience and pedigree, having won league titles at all the clubs he has previously managed. Ajax, Barcelona, Bayern Munich and even AZ Alkmaar experienced domestic success under his stewardship. The current Dutch champions also lifted the Champions League trophy with Van Gaal at the helm back in 1995.
The 62-year-old will also bring a clear philosophy which would seem to match United’s famous attacking ethos. There is no doubt that Van Gaal will be hoping to put his faith in a new generation of talent, meaning many of the current squad will be moved on to other clubs to accommodate these youngsters and new signings.
Armed with a hefty transfer kitty, Van Gaal will want to bring in some quality in the summer in an attempt to get United, first of all, back into the top four of the Premier League and then challenging for the title again.
Although many of Moyes’ underperformers will leave the club, there are still some tremendous players plying their trade at Old Trafford. Van Gaal will trust these players to work within his system and go and win him plenty of games next season. Here are three members of the current United squad that will be key players under the new boss.
The United front-man could not have asked for a better appointment. The spearhead of Holland’s attack on the World Cup trophy is likely to be the focal point of Van Gaal’s new Man Utd team. There is already talk that the Dutchman will replace the outgoing Nemanja Vidic as captain of the club in the new regime but you have to wonder what this will all mean for the future of Wayne Rooney, especially considering Van Gaal does prefer to use a 4-3-3 system, although he has been known to play two up front on occasion.
Van Persie struggled with injuries in 2013-14 and was even touted to leave the club after reportedly being unhappy at David Moyes’ training methods. The striker should definitely stay now Van Gaal is in charge and there is no reason to suggest that he won’t be the main man. Despite his troubles, Van Persie still managed to score 12 league goals in 21 appearances at a healthy conversion rate of 26.1%.
It’s almost certain that United’s record signing, Juan Mata, will have a key role to play under Van Gaal. The Dutch coach will be able to get the best out of the talented Spaniard, who has impressed since moving to Old Trafford from Chelsea in January. Van Gaal will surround Mata with players who can do their duties defensively and allow the attacking midfielder freedom to weave his magic in the final third.
Mata was able to create 33 chances on goal in his 15 league appearances for United, the third highest tally at the club last season. He also chipped in with six goals but surely, under Van Gaal’s stewardship and in his first full season at the club, he will be pivotal in their push to finish in the Champions League places.
With Van Gaal so interested in giving youth its chance in the first team; United’s hottest young talent, Januzaj, will be given plenty of game-time next season. He can play in a central area but Van Gaal is likely to play him in a more suitable wide area to utilise his tremendous dribbling. Expect the Belgian to be more consistent in his second full season at the club, as the new coach will focus plenty of energy on helping Januzaj reach his true potential.
Januzaj was arguably United’s most impressive outfield player last season, creating 31 chances on goal and scoring four times in his debut campaign. The 19-year-old also completed 51 of his 96 take-on attempts at a 53% success rate and won 60 free kicks as opposition defenders let him know they were there regularly.
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