Louis Van Gaal’s “Red Devil Revolution” might have won over the British press quickly but how is he serving as an effective custodian of Manchester United’s future? David Moyes made an effort to transition properly to the next era of Manchester United players giving Tom Cleverley and Danny Welbeck more time on the pitch and worked to transition the backline.
Friday, it was revealed that Danny Welbeck has been told he is free to leave the club by Van Gaal. If this is the case, Manchester United has given up on one of its best home grown players of the past decade, a player who is good enough to feature regularly for England. Yet Van Gaal using a 3-5-2 formation, which logically would require a striker that can pair with either Robin van Persie or Wayne Rooney, does not see Welbeck in that role. One wonders whom he sees in this role that would be superior to Welbeck.
The decision to anoint Wayne Rooney as captain is another curious decision. Sir Alex Ferguson preferred to have the armband worn by a mature player with leadership skills and the respect of his teammates. In Rooney, Van Gaal has picked a player that openly sulks and has threatened to leave the club on multiple occasions. Rooney’s demonstrative petulance is a trademark of a player that many feel has never completely matured. No doubt exists that he is one of the very finest footballers on the planet when on his game, but his behavior and lack of leadership skills make his selection as captain truly bizarre and perhaps damaging to the manager.
Van Gaal’s insistence on using a 3-5-2 formation has been hailed by some quarters of the British press as “genius.” Yet in the first competitive match under the Dutch manager, United was opened up and torn apart by Swansea. Van Gaal often played a 4-3-3 in his previous club stints but sprung the 3-5-2 on Spain in the World Cup and has stuck with the formation all summer with both the Netherlands and now Manchester United.
But does Manchester United really need to play a 3-5-2? Only time will tell on this, but the quickness with which many in the press declared use of this formation “genius,” when previously Kenny Dalglish, Roberto Mancini, Steve Bruce and Brendan Rodgers were at various times in recent years aggressively critiqued for playing the formation, is telling.