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Louis van Gaal’s costly choices could derail Manchester United

| 26.01.2015

Manchester United, 10/3 with Coral to win the FA Cup, were remarkably held to a dismal draw with Cambridge United in their FA Cup fourth round clash, with Louis van Gaal receiving further criticism regarding his calamitous team choices.

The Dutch coach is still trying to get his philosophy across at Old Trafford, with his methods coming under some scrutiny from fans and pundits alike.

Van Gaal’s style of play has left the majority of fans unconvinced, with the Dutchman opting to set his side up a ‘3-5-2’ formation for the majority of this Premier League season so far.

However, United were reverted back to a more familiar ‘4-4-2’ for the goalless draw with Cambridge, but it proved to be uninspiring as the League Two outfit forced a cup replay.

United’s Abbey Stadium stalemate only added ammunition to critics aiming disapproval towards Van Gaal, as his side were unable to overcome a team 76 domestic league places below the Champions League hopefuls.

The former Netherlands boss admitted the FA Cup is his fastest route to silverware success in his first season in the red half of Manchester, but United showed some severely underwhelming form against League Two’s 13th-placed outfit.

Despite some spells of deadly displays this season, the Red Devils have primarily performed poorly, including a recent 1-0 home defeat to Ronald Koeman’s Southampton.

Van Gaal is now risking ridicule at Old Trafford as he aims to retain the support of the club’s followers, with a change in attitude and a parting with his current tactics possibly a useful place to start.

His philosophy has come under sustained pressure, not just by United’s poor FA Cup result, but with his choice of words after the match. Claiming that everything was against his team was an undermining blow to his own credentials, proving that Van Gaal is making some wrong decisions on and off the pitch.

At the Abbey Stadium the former Ajax coach started two World Cup finalists, a Colombian earning a reported £265k-a-week, Ecuador’s World Cup captain and a £27m Belgium international, among other world-class stars.

Although, even with such an array of talent at his disposal, his men were unable to ease past their supposedly inferior opponents. The problem seems to lie mainly within Van Gaal’s costly tactical decisions and not just the player’s performances.

Decisions such as leaving Wayne Rooney out of a game that he could have thrived in, playing Angel Di Maria centrally instead of on the left and insisting on utilising Radamel Falcao as a bit-part player, have contributed towards a recent blip during Van Gaal’s reign.

A run of nine victories, four draws and only a single loss is obviously not the form of a club in crisis. However, with just five goals scored in their last six outings, United are struggling offensively, with the players finding it extremely difficult to adjust to their manager’s tactics and approach.

There’s no question that the former Bayern Munich manager is a suitable candidate to lead United back to past glory, but the time it takes to get there depends on Van Gaal’s choices during the remainder of this current campaign.

As well as pushing for their first FA Cup triumph since 2004, United are aiming to return to Champions League football next season and are odds-on at 4/9 to capture fourth spot this term.



Lee Gormley

Lee joined the Coral team in 2014 after studying at Leeds Trinity University, having moved across the water from Ireland, and has plenty of industry experience from his time with various news outlets in both England and Northern Ireland. After graduating with a BA Honours degree in Sports Journalism, he has since become an important member of the talented sports desk, passionately covering boxing, football and snooker, among many other sports. Lee is also a massive Manchester United and Republic of Ireland fan, but curbs any bias during his work, and outside of his job can be found regularly taking part in sport himself, such as boxing, GAA and football.