Louis van Gaal’s Manchester United reign may not have been going on for very long, but the Dutchman has already initiated a drastic formation change for the coming campaign.
The Red Devils will adopt the 3-5-2 blueprint that served the Netherlands so well at the World Cup as they aim to build on their seventh-place finish from last term.
A price of 53/100 says Van Gaal’s first season at the helm will bring about a top-four finish, while those who think he can add another Premier League title to United’s sizeable haul at 9/2.
One person who looks set to have a bigger influence on their season than he did under David Moyes is Wilfried Zaha.
The £12m signing from Crystal Palace has been told that he’ll be used as a centre-forward this season, with the Red Devils set to abolish the use of orthodox wingers, especially in the opening months of 2014/15.
Van Gaal has told the England international that his tendency to lose the ball means he won’t be pitched in as a makeshift wing-back in the same way that fellow lightweight speedster Ashley Young may be, for instance.
But despite an underwhelming start to his top-flight career, playing up front in a two-man spearhead could be the elixir that reinvigorates the Ivory Coast-born star’s Man Utd career.
Arjen Robben – a winger by trade – was arguably the best player at the World Cup when playing as a second-striker alongside Robin van Persie, a potential partner for Zaha in the United attack.
It was the Bayern Munchen man’s dribbling prowess that allowed him to flourish in this system, dropping into the space between the opposition’s midfield and defence, getting the ball and running towards goal.
Furthermore, Van Gaal, a manager with a track record of trusting young players, has previous of converting the natural positions of certain charges with great success.
Bayern stars David Alaba and Bastian Schweinsteiger were both recalibrated by the Dutchman, the former from a centre-midfielder to a left-back and the latter from a winger to holding-midfielder.
Should the same sorcery work on Zaha, it looks a banker that he’ll start xx games at xx for Man Utd next season.