The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

5 things likely to be on the to-do list of new Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal

  • Print

MANCHESTER, England - New Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal has been bequeathed a team in transition and lacking in self-belief after the club's worst Premier League season.

Here are five things that will likely be on the Dutchman's to-do list once he takes charge after the World Cup:

___

DEFINE UNITED'S IDENTITY

One of Europe's most bold, attacking and vibrant teams for much of Alex Ferguson's long reign, United completely lost its identity under David Moyes and became a soft touch.

Long balls, no pace to attacks and a lack of goals from midfield were the hallmarks of the Moyes era — and it was a turn-off for fans.

Van Gaal is committed to an attacking and entertaining style, with sharp passing, possession and pressing of opposition key to his philosophy. For that reason, he can be seen as creating the formula adopted by the current Barcelona and Bayern Munich teams.

___

ACT FAST

This is one of the most critical summers in United's recent history. Van Gaal and vice chairman Ed Woodward cannot afford to blunder in the transfer market as the club did last year when Moyes acted late and indecisively, landing only Marouane Fellaini in the last few minutes of deadline day.

United has considerable sums to spend but isn't in the Champions League next season, making it a harder sell to the world's best players. United possibly needs four or five signings if the team is to challenge for the league title again next season.

___

CENTER MIDFIELDER

United has been crying out for a top-class central midfielder with leadership and dynamism ever since the departure of Roy Keane in 2005.

They are rare breed and extremely difficult to find, but Van Gaal will desperately need one.

The current quartet of Fellaini, Michael Carrick, Darren Fletcher and Tom Cleverley lacks presence, movement or a goal threat — between them, they scored only twice in all competitions this season.

Van Gaal's game plan revolves around a passing game in midfield and that couldn't happen with the incumbents.

___

REBUILD Defence

With Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand definitely leaving and Patrice Evra also likely to be on his way out, the defensive rocks United has relied on for the past decade will not be available for Van Gaal.

It leaves him a raw back four of Rafael da Silva, Phil Jones, Chris Smalling and Alexander Buttner. Jones — potentially a future England captain if played regularly at centre back — may be the only one retained by the Dutchman, who will no doubt want ball-players at the back.

___

REVIVE HOME FORM

Old Trafford needs to return to being a fortress — the "Theatre of Dreams" has become a theatre of nightmares.

United lost seven times at home in the Premier League this season, with Sunderland, Newcastle and West Bromwich Albion among the teams to come away with three points.

Swansea also won there in the FA Cup.

Visiting sides no longer fear coming to United — Van Gaal must change that.

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.