x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Five things Louis van Gaal needs to address at Manchester United

On Thursday, the 62-year-old Dutchman will be officially presented at a news conference before jetting off to the USA on Friday for the club’s pre-season tour.

Netherland's football coach Louis van Gaal arrives at Rotterdam-The Hague airport in Rotterdam, on July 13, 2014. Van Gaal starts as Manchester United manager this week. AFP PHOTO / ANP / SANDER KONING
Netherland's football coach Louis van Gaal arrives at Rotterdam-The Hague airport in Rotterdam, on July 13, 2014. Van Gaal starts as Manchester United manager this week. AFP PHOTO / ANP / SANDER KONING

Louis van Gaal was preparing to begin work as Manchester United manager on Wednesday.

The Dutchman was due to arrive at United’s Carrington training ground to take up the reins only four days after guiding Holland to third place at the World Cup in Brazil.

Van Gaal opted against taking a holiday and will instead throw himself into United life, meeting those players who are not on a post World Cup break as well as club staff.

Read more: Louis van Gaal arrives at Manchester United on the wave of expectation

The 62-year-old, United’s first manager from outside the British Isles, will have no time to ease himself in.

On Thursday he will be officially presented at a news conference before jetting off to the USA on Friday for the club’s pre-season tour.

United will play matches against the Los Angeles Galaxy, Roma, Inter Milan and Real Madrid before beginning their Premier League campaign at home to Swansea on August 16.

Here are five areas the Dutchman needs to address.

DEFENCE

Top of Van Gaal’s to-do list must be central defence following the departures of Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic.

Filling such a big hole will not be easy. First Van Gaal must decide where Jonny Evans, Phil Jones and Chris Smalling fit into his plans. United have been linked with the likes of German World Cup winner Mats Hummels and Arsenal’s Thomas Vermaelen, and bringing in an authoritative figure seems essential.

Right-back is another area Van Gaal might want to address, with Smalling and Jones having provided the main cover for Rafael, who struggled with injury last season.

ROBIN VAN PERSIE AND WAYNE ROONEY

Neither Sir Alex Ferguson nor David Moyes solved the problem of how to get the best out of Van Persie and Rooney playing together.

Van Gaal and Van Persie clearly have a good relationship from their involvement with Holland’s national team, so the new boss is likely to approach it from the standpoint of how Rooney fits in.

He gave Arjen Robben essentially a free role behind Van Persie for Holland and could take a similar approach.

MIDFIELD

If Rooney plays in free role or as a number 10, that leaves Van Gaal with the issue of what to do with Juan Mata, Shinji Kagawa and Marouane Fellaini.

All three are at their best playing behind a central striker. The futures of Kagawa and Fellaini in particular must be in doubt, along with the likes of Tom Cleverley, Ashley Young, Nani and Anderson.

Van Gaal has already signed Spanish midfielder Ander Herrera and United have been heavily linked with Chile World Cup star Arturo Vidal.

The club sorely lacked authority in midfield last season and restoring the dynamism that has been United’s trademark would be an instant win with the fans. Vidal would appear to be a good start.

YOUNG PLAYERS

The famed flow of talent from United’s academy has slowed to a trickle in recent years. Adnan Januzaj is certainly a star of the future but Van Gaal also needs to decide if he is going to follow in Ferguson’s footsteps by trusting young talent.

Jesse Lingard impressed in loan spells at Birmingham and Brighton last season, while James Wilson and Tom Lawrence made their debuts late in the campaign.

COACHES

Van Gaal wasted no time in confirming Ryan Giggs would be his assistant manager, while he has also brought in fellow Dutchmen Albert Stuivenberg, Frans Hoek and Marcel Bout.

But the futures of Giggs’ class of 92 colleagues Phil Neville, Nicky Butt and Paul Scholes remains unclear. All three took on key roles last season when Giggs briefly took over the reins following Moyes’ sacking.

They are influential figures at Old Trafford so could be valuable allies for Van Gaal. Moyes angered many fans right at the start by dispensing with popular coaches Rene Meulensteen, Eric Steele and Mike Phelan.

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