Louis Van Gaal Must Juggle Balance with Signings to Succeed as Man Utd Manager

Sam Tighe@@stighefootballWorld Football Tactics Lead WriterMay 11, 2014

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ST. MARY'S STADIUM, SOUTHAMPTON — If Louis van Gaal is to be the new manager of Manchester United—as multiple media outlets, including The Mirror have reported—he has one hell of a job on his hands.

Manchester United's 1-1 draw with Southampton on Sunday afternoon outlined just how little the storied powerhouse has to offer on the pitch at this moment in time, and Van Gaal will be the man charged with restoring success at United in record time.

Robin van Persie and Co. put in a truly vacant opening 45 minutes at St. Mary's Stadium, failing to take control of the match and limping to a 1-0 deficit at the half. Rickie Lambert's opener was as easy a goal you'll see all season—the product of a monumental mess engineered by Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic's uncertainties dealing with a long ball.

Patrice Evra continually baulked at Nathaniel Clyne's adventurous runs, while Adnan Januzaj was phased out of the game early by the aggressive, competitive and hungry Luke Shaw.

SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - MAY 11:  Nemanja Vidic (R) of Manchester United and Adam Lallana (L) of Southampton challenge for the ball during the Barclays Premier League match between Southampton and Manchester United at St Mary's Stadium on May 11, 2014 in So
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A moment of individual genius from Juan Mata, who guided a perfect free-kick into the top corner, paved United's way back into the game in the second half, but the feeling around the stadium was that the goal was thoroughly against the run of play.

Michael Carrick's introduction shored things up and the second half was a marked improvement, but season-long errors and mistakes reared their ugly heads once again to remind us just how fragile United are at this moment in time.

"I was really pleased with second half, Saints had the better first half, but we were better second," Giggs told the media after the game. "We didn't keep possession well enough and, ironically, the team I picked was with instruction to keep possession. We changed at half-time and we were much better."

Patrice Evra may well have played his final game for the Red Devils, Rio Ferdinand has intimated he's off and Nemanja Vidic is signing for Internazionale. Chris Smalling, Shinji Kagawa, Adnan Januzaj and Danny Welbeck all played out of position on Sunday.

Manchester United are in need of complete revamping and this final disappointing performance against a side far more settled and calm compounded that notion. Sir Alex Ferguson was the glue that held an ailing side together, and without the disciplinarian it's come apart at the seams.

Van Gaal's first job will be to re-motivate Van Persie, who cut a forlorn, frustrated and disinterested figure for 68 minutes. The Dutch connection will help, but what of the other prominent issues haunting the side?

On current form, Southampton's Morgan Schneiderlin, Dejan Lovren, Luke Shaw and Adam Lallana could waltz into this United XI and make it infinitely better. That's not to say Saints are a better side, but that they're more settled, more comfortable and, as a result, happier.

Almost immediately, Van Gaal needs to create the balance of a settled, stable atmosphere while restocking the shelves by recruiting en masse. He needs a new defence and a new midfield for a start.

The Dutchman must also play the part of psychologist, carefully rebuilding the confidence of a shot, depleted squad who do not have the requisite quality to challenge for a UEFA Champions League place as it stands.

It's no small task, that much is guaranteed.

The success or failure of the project, as with David Moyes, may well be founded upon the summer.


*All quotes obtained first-hand unless noted otherwise.


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