Score

It’s change management not formation

Share Bookmark Print Rating

Van Gaal is in a tight spot as he has to field squads featuring his attack minded players. AFP PHOTO 

By Moses Banturaki

Posted  Saturday, August 23   2014 at  01:00
SHARE THIS STORY

PROCESS. Revolutions aren’t easy and lasting change is gradual. Manchester United will have to adapt. Will Louis van Gaal be vindicated like Ferguson was in the Moscow rain in 2008? The jury should wait a little bit.

The last time Manchester United witnessed a radical change in tactics was in 2004 when Carlos Queiroz arrived with his philosophy of ‘strikerlessness’ and set about building a formation that at one time had Wayne Rooney and Carlos Tevez as a front mix that dropped off to create space for Cristiano Ronaldo cutting in mostly from the left.
Some say that change had its roots in 2000 and had been provoked by Fernando Redondo back heeling the ball through Henning Berg’s legs, in that famous Manchester United-Madrid Champions League quarter final.
Whatever the case it appears this game did more than just convert Roman Abramovich into a devotee of English football.
Apparently, if the scanty success in Europe had not already done so, the tactical mayhem of Ferguson’s United in that game convinced him that a gung-ho 4-4-2 formation, while exciting for Roman Abramovich, no longer cut it and would not submerge European teams the way it did local opposition that was at that time tactically conservative and clumsy. So it is said, he then sought out Carlos Quieroz.
From this we can deduce that the change of tactics and formations come about as a reaction to difficulty. They are corrective actions not a philosophy as such. They may be dressed up as belief systems as is the case with Luis Van Gaal favored 3-5-2 formation but in essence they are largely circumstantial and never cast in stone and will change as situation dictates like we saw in the second half against Swansea last weekend when United reverted to a flat four.
So today, while Louis van Gaal’s preferred formation is being treated like it is a verse from a football bible, in reality the man is mindful that he is inheriting a team that is overloaded with attack-minded players. It wouldn’t surprise me therefore if the choice of formation is at the end of a decision to accommodate Wayne Rooney, Robin Van Persie and Juan Mata.
Once that is done it becomes clear that a potent attack can quickly become a weak midfield and defence unless of course you deploy dual purpose wingbacks capable of becoming part of the midfield in attack and in defense. This then and not preset doctrines is what Van Gaal has to contend with. Does he develop available resource in this area or does he bring in ready replacements?
The right people for the right jobs have to be identified through a time consuming process of competence gap identification and coaching. It is what is expected of a competent Manager.
And on the evidence of last weekend’s opener the task ahead isn’t easy. It’s never easy when a scale-up is required as is the case with the current Manchester United squad or the one Queiroz inherited in 2004. Fans may romanticize the heady days of a hat trick of titles and two European finals one of which was won, but even that came after a lean period in which only one in five titles was delivered.
Revolutions aren’t easy and lasting change is gradual. Manchester United will have to adapt. Will Louis van Gaal be vindicated like Ferguson was in the Moscow rain in 2008? I would rather the jury was called in after four years.

TACTICS
Whereas Louis van Gaal’s preferred formation is being treated like it is a verse from a football bible, in reality the man is mindful that he is inheriting a team that is overloaded with attack-minded players. It wouldn’t surprise me therefore if the choice of formation is at the end of a decision to accommodate Wayne Rooney, Robin Van Persie and Juan Mata. Once that is done it becomes clear that a potent attack can quickly become a weak midfield and defence unless of course you deploy dual purpose wingbacks capable of becoming part of the midfield in attack and in defense.

Did you know?

Rojo made his Fifa World Cup in Brazil. AFP PHOTO

1.Faustino Marcos Alberto Rojo (born 20 March 1990) is an Argentine defender who has just been signed by Man Utd.

2.Rojo grew up in La Plata, Argentina and joined his local side Estudiantes de La Plata at aged 10. In 2009, he got promotion to the main team, making 43 appearances and scoring three goals.

3.During his time at Estudiantes, Rojo won a Copa Libertadores and an Argentine Primera Division title.

4.On August 20, 2014, Manchester United announced that they had signed Rojo for £16 million on a five-year contract, with Nani moving in the opposite direction on a season-long loan.

5.Since 2011, Rojo has become a representative of the Argentina national team, appearing regularly. He was first capped on February 9, 2011 in a friendly match against Portugal. He also played in 2011 Copa América and 2014 World Cup qualifying.

6.Rojo scored his first international goal during a 3–2 victory against Nigeria during this year’s World Cup in Brazil. The country reached the final before losing to Germany, and Rojo was the only Argentinean named in the Castrol Index Top 11 for the tournament.

banturakim@gmail.com