by Luke Regan
Upon the appointment of Louis Van Gaal at Manchester United, following his management of his native Holland at the World Cup in Brazil, the red side of Manchester was filled with enthusiasm, amid genuine hope of a title challenge this season. However, following a rather dismal result, and perhaps more poignantly, a poor performance, calls for more transfers in have come from the fans of the club.
The player who has primarily been called into question with regards to a transfer into United is Real Madrid’s Angel Di Maria, who impressed last season for Real Madrid, when he often exhibited his versatility in operating in varying roles throughout the season, varying from that of a flying winger, to that of a facilitating, but inventive midfielder.
Despite the obvious qualities of Di Maria, it is unclear how he would fit into the newly adopted 3-5-2 system at Manchester United, should the transfer that is reported to be likely to happen materialise. Clearly, the roles of the three central defenders and two wing backs in the system will not be majorly affected by the arrival of the Argentine, despite calls for United to strengthen in defensive areas.
Further forward then, will be where Di Maria’s influence will be felt. With a space in the central midfield three being the positions that are best suited and available to the Madrid man, with Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie seeming to be nailed on first choices for the striking roles. Meanwhile, Juan Mata appears to have claimed the number ten spot behind Rooney and van Persie, which in fact, would have been the position in the system that Di Maria would be best suited to.
Deeper in midfield, United have generally started early games under Van Gaal with newly appointed vice captain Darren Fletcher featuring alongside newly signed Ander Herrera, who is believed to have cost around £29m. Therefore, it is unlikely, that Herrara, when fit (he is currently injured) will not nigh on automatically command a starting slot in the team, given his high price tag and clear ability. Furthermore, it would be extremely unlikely that Di Maria, Herrera and Mata would be defensively aware enough to survive the rigours of the Premier League, with all three of the midfielders being naturally attack minded players. Therefore, you would expect Fletcher to maintain his starting role, with a change of system occurring.
Van Gaal’s fabled love of the 4-3-3 system would surely be the formation that would suit Di Maria in particular best, with him being suited to either a wide role, or a system as the most advanced of the midfielders. However others aspects of the system would suffer, for example, throughout pre season, Van Gaal talked at length about how he wishes to field two central strikers in tandem, with a number ten operating behind them. However, a switch to 4-3-3 would mean that neither of the Dutchman’s yearnings would be possible, with the system just featuring a slot for one central striker, and no number ten. Therefore, players may be forced to play out of position, perhaps Wayne Rooney would be pushed either wide or deeper, with Juan Mata pushed out wide.
To conclude, it would appear that you could certainly argue that the signing of Angel Di Maria doesn’t really make perfect sense for Manchester United, with many of the tactical decisions taken by Van Gaal so far during his reign either becoming redundant (should they change system), or simply not being suited to Di Maria. However, not signing the World Cup runner up appears to not really be an option, given the fans clamour for a new signing, and so Louis Van Gaal will have to either adjust his system, or adjust Di Maria to boast a harmonic team.
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