Newly appointed Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal has his critics on whether or not the Dutch coach’s teams play attractive soccer. Following a 2-0 victory over Chile in this summer’s World Cup, van Gaal was asked by a journalist if his tactics were attacking enough. Van Gaal quipped, “Could you give me a definition of attacking football? That’s my question to you. I’m asking you, if you have such a clever question… If you’re going to ask me questions, I’m going to ask you questions.”
Van Gaal went on to say, “It’s all about winning, so I use the system I think will let me win… that’s what I think football is. You have to evaluate a strategy that will help you win, and this is the proof in the pudding. We’re not giving away games and we’re winning.”
The Netherlands ended up finishing third in the World Cup, and scored 15 total goals (including 10 in the group stage) during the tournament.
Former Chelsea and Newcastle United manager Ruud Gullit also noticed the unattractive style of play by his countryman. Gullit claimed, “Louis has completely changed his vision of football after his success with the Dutch national team in the World Cup. He made a tactical switch in order to survive in Brazil. The fact things turned out so well was surprising, and good for Dutch football.”
Gullit finished by saying, “But that success has clearly changed something about him. He wants to use the same measures with Manchester United that he employed with Holland. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing in the Liverpool game. Louis has abandoned his philosophy. But will it work? United are a club that favors playing attractive football, just like Ajax, Barca and Bayern.”
While some are suggesting that van Gaal is utilizing a boring style of play, the 63-year-old manager has claimed that he is forced into the formation due to the lack of quality in certain areas currently in his squad. Van Gaal recently said, “Right now we have five number 9’s and four number 10’s and we don’t have wingers to play attacking width. Not wingers of the highest level, of Ronaldo or Di Maria. So I have to play another way and you have seen that in America.” Whether van Gaal will stick with his 3-5-2 formation, even if new recruits are implemented into the side, remains to be seen.
Manchester United is a club both rich in history and usually known for playing extremely attractive soccer. Under Sir Alex Ferguson (whom retired following the 2012-13 season), United were at, or near the top of the goals scored chart nearly every season, and won 13 Premier League and two UEFA Champions League titles.
Although van Gaal’s system may be boring to watch for the Old Trafford faithful, the Manchester United fans will ultimately decide whether or not to embrace the manager’s unusual tactics on how successful the club is. If van Gaal turns the Reds back into title contenders, the fans will not care how “boring” their beloved team plays. United ended their 2014 preseason schedule with a 2-1 victory over Valencia on Tuesday, as Marouane Fellaini netted a winner in the 91st minute at Old Trafford.