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Van Gaal: Nervy Manchester United needs better defenders (video)

Aug 16, 2014, 4:18 PM EDT

Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal spulled no punches when describing his squad’s failures on Saturday, with a team that appeared resurgent during its preseason falling to Swansea City 2-1 in the new boss’s competitive debut.

“I have seen in the first half a lot of players very nervous, making the wrong choices,” van Gaal explained, “and that is a pity.”

A 72nd minute goal from midfielder Gylfi Sigurdsson gave Swans an opening weekend win over United for the second year running, serving as the tiebreaker after Ki Sung-Yeung and Wayne Rooney got their teams on the board.

After the game, Van Gaal was not shy about expressing his disappointment.

“It is not good because we have built up a lot of confidence and it shall be smashed down because of this result,” the Dutch boss told the media before offering a blunt assessment of his squad’s quality and performance. From The Guardian:

“[Lack of quality] is not a question because I knew that before this game. Of course we need defenders. It is also the question if we can play like a team and if we can reach the [right] level. Today, we didn’t reach that level. When you don’t play like a team, when you miss the chances, it is very difficult because every team shall create chances against us because we are playing with a big space behind us.

As van Gaal also noted, it’s only one game, saying “you shall not be the champion at this moment, you shall be the champion in May.”

For a United side many expect will resume a place in the top four, initial returns show a team with a long way to go.

  1. Ian's Rushtache - Aug 16, 2014 at 4:29 PM

    Clearly the smart thing to do when you lack quality defenders, and know it, is to play 3 at the back. Derp.

    • geejon - Aug 16, 2014 at 5:04 PM

      The 3-5-2 that was talked as if it were the wheel reinvented lasted all of 45 minutes. That’s not the issue anyway. Regardless of formation, they are lacking players of the quality to even sniff the top 4.

    • lordfletcher - Aug 17, 2014 at 1:27 AM

      Sorry Ian, but I must disagree.

      When you have limited faith in your defenders, it makes all the sense to rely on strong wing play to cover the gap. CB is the main weak point and in any formation it can be exposed.

      CB. CDM and LW/RW is needed

  2. fantom21 - Aug 16, 2014 at 8:28 PM

    The 3-4-1-2 is a good system, but relies mostly on hardworking wingers/ backs and center backs who are confident on the ball. United would be smart to scout the Serie A because there are teams who utilize the 3-5-2 and have good wing backs for the position. You don’t have to be the best player to play the wingback part, Dirk Kuyt was excellent in the World Cup playing the right wing back role for Holland because he has a good engine. Young isn’t defensive enough to play the part for United and Shaw doesn’t have the engine to play the part. Valencia would be perfect for the position. And if they can get Cuadrado from Fiorentina, the system will flourish. They also need a replacement for Fletcher, someone that can distribute the ball and play defensive mid( Schwiensteiger, De Rossi, Khedira, Thiago Motta, Gundogan would be perfect.) If I was LVG I would go for Cuadrado, Hummels, and Gundogan. A Reus for Mata + cash deal and United can be top 4.

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