Louis Van Gaal’s reign as Manchester United manager got off to the best possible start as his side, thrashed LA Galaxy 7-0 in the Chevrolet Cup. There were plenty of good things that came out of Manchester United’s resounding victory over the American side. Prime among those was the seamless transition from a four-man defence to one that had three centre backs and two wing backs. While LA Galaxy didn’t pose too much of a threat, anything that did come through was marshalled quite easily by the trio of Jonny Evans, Chris Smalling and Phil Jones.
While the defence was largely untroubled, the performance of new signing Ander Herrera, who ran the show was one that would’ve certainly pleased the supporters and coach alike. There was a lot of questioning before the game as whether the Spanish midfielder was what they needed and Herrera showed once and for all that he is the real deal.
Another important observation from that match would be the form of Ashley Young and Nani. Both players looked threatening going forward and Young even finished with a brace and an assist although he only came on in the second half. While both players impressed, Van Gaal’s admission that 3-4-3 was going to be his preferred formation means that the need for a genuine wingers isn’t as much as it was a few weeks ago.
With the width to be provided by the two wing backs, the club is likely to need wingers, only in case of a Plan B, when switch to a different formation. And with both Young and Nani showing signs of promise, the situation on the wings looks a lot better than it was, at the end of last season.
Having been linked with pretty much every half-decent winger in the continent throughout this summer, it looks as though the Red Devils might not need them after all. While all the talk of replacing the current lot of wingers, who were insipid last season was certainly right, there is now no urgent need for any new addition, unless the current ones are sold.
On that evidence at least, Angel Di Maria’s move from Real Madrid to Paris Saint-Germain doesn’t seem as much of a blow to their chances as it seemed only a little while ago. While there is no doubt that the €50m Argentine winger would’ve been a great addition to the squad, the fact that the current formation doesn’t need wingers means that even the current crop aren’t likely to feature too heavily in Van Gaal’s plan for this season.
While others might claim that he is versatile enough to play as the central playmaker, the club already have Juan Mata, Shinji Kagawa and even Wayne Rooney if it needs be, to play that role. Di Maria’s arrival would’ve meant that the Japanese playmaker would be surplus to requirements and even then, his signing would’ve been a more luxury addition. And with the price being quoted for him, it is fair to say that even with all of his talents, it would’ve been a huge waste of money that could’ve been put to better use elsewhere.
Not only would Di Maria’s arrival have had financial implications, it would have also shunted the growth of some young talents looking to break through into the first-team. The likes of Jesse Lingard, Adnan Januzaj and Davide Petrucci have been knocking on the doors of the first team for some time now and Di Maria’s arrival would’ve meant lesser opportunities for them.
Januzaj in particular has made great strides into the first-team in the last 12 months and the arrival of an established winger, who essentially occupies the same position as him, would’ve meant lesser playing time for the Belgian. The young Belgian who was one of the few bright sparks last season, would’ve been eager to impress Van Gaal and enhance his reputation even further.
While it might have felt like a disappointment at first, a closer inspection reveals that PSG’s acquisition of Angel Di Maria is good news for the Red Devils in more ways than one.