Louis van Gaal still dancing around formations as United struggle for rhythm

Manchester United manager admits he is still looking for balance after trying six systems

Manchester United’s Dutch manager Louis van Gaal Photograph: Oli Scarff/Afp/Getty

Manchester United’s Dutch manager Louis van Gaal Photograph: Oli Scarff/Afp/Getty

 

Louis van Gaal has admitted he has yet to find the best balance for Manchester United but the manager is content with their results after losing only once in 18 matches.

On Wednesday night at Old Trafford Burnley were defeated 3-1, though Van Gaal was unhappy with the first-half display in what was the latest unconvincing performance from United. Against Sean Dyche’s team, Van Gaal played a 4-1-3-2 and at other times the Dutchman has fielded a 3-5-2, a 4-4-2, 4-2-2-2 and 4-1-4-1.

Ideal balance

Van Gaal brushed off criticism from Paul Scholes, who claimed the side’s football had been “miserable” at times against Burnley. “I don’t worry about it. It’s not so interesting, I think, because he is one of the fans, I hope, and he can criticise,” the Dutchman said of the former United midfielder. “Fans can criticise, and that’s not a problem.

“That’s what I have to say about that. I am used to it and I think all the players are used to it because they are not first-time professional football players. Maybe some players are affected, but normally most of the time it does not affect me or the players.”

Van Gaal, though, did admit how the side performs is vital. “The style of play is always very important. The club has a lot of fans, so you have to play for them,” he said. “I was not down about the second half [against Burnley], I have given my opinion and am always honest. When it is bad, it is bad and when it is good, it is good. Next match we can show that we are still in our process and positive.”

United are at Preston North End on Monday evening for an FA Cup fifth-round tie. Robin van Persie has an unspecified problem and the availability of Phil Jones and Daley Blind, who suffered a leg injury and a knock to the head respectively against Burnley, is also in the balance.

Van Gaal added that Michael Carrick, who is out with a calf problem, has suffered a minor setback in his recovery so the vice-captain may not be able to return until next month.

Romance Preston are the third team in three rounds from the lower divisions United will face in the cup. After playing Yeovil Town and Cambridge United previously, Van Gaal is beginning to understand the romance related to the completion.

“It is fantastic,” he said. “You know the world is against you, the environment is against you because everyone is with the underdog.

“But the chance that you can survive is higher because you are playing against lower qualities. But you have to beat the team with better motivation in other circumstances and in the atmosphere where everyone is against you.” Guardian Service

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