5 Most Important Tasks for Louis Van Gaal at Manchester United

Sam PilgerContributing Football WriterJuly 17, 2014

5 Most Important Tasks for Louis Van Gaal at Manchester United

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    Louis van Gaal will be formally unveiled as the new manager of Manchester United on June 17.

    It is then only 30 days before the Dutchman takes charge of his first competitive match, when United face Swansea City in the opening Premier League game of the season.

    Before then, Van Gaal has a host of issues he needs to urgently address as he seeks to revive United. 

    Here are what should be his five most important tasks. 

Rebuild the Defence

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    The Manchester United defence has been decimated by the loss of Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand this summer. 

    United have been shorn of over 750 games worth of experience for the club, with Ferdinand a part of six Premier League title winning sides and Vidic joining him for the latter five. 

    As Simon Jones in the Daily Mail reports, Patrice Evra, a veteran of 379 United games himself, looks likely to join the Old Trafford exodus by signing for Italian champions Juventus.

    Left in their wake is a callow and alarmingly fragile set of defenders including Chris Smalling, Jonny Evans and Phil Jones.

    Luke Shaw has already been recruited to replace Evra, but Van Gaal needs to quickly bring in at least two more experienced defenders. 

Inject Pace in to the Forward Line

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    Natacha Pisarenko/Associated Press

    Robin van Persie, Wayne Rooney and Juan Mata.

    All are world-class talents but none possess the sort of pace that seriously troubles defences. 

    At the World Cup, Van Gaal saw his Dutch side constantly benefit from the raw pace of Arjen Robben.

    As the Daily Telegraph has reported, Robben has said Van Gaal asked him to join him at Old Trafford.

    “I have a special bond with him,” said Robben. “He is the most important coach in my career. After the match he did ask me to come to Manchester. It is not an option. I will stay at Bayern Munich."

    So it won’t be Robben, but Van Gaal must find another winger to give the United forward line more pace.

Decide How to Accommodate Rooney and Mata

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    Jon Super/Associated Press

    Wayne Rooney’s best position is as a No. 9, but he can’t play there as the role is already filled by Robin van Persie.

    Fine, so you move Rooney slightly back to where he can thrive as a No. 10 just behind Van Persie. 

    But then what do you do with Juan Mata? His best position is also as a central No. 10 behind the main striker.

    This is a major problem, which David Moyes never solved, and now Van Gaal needs to address it.

    If you play both Rooney and Mata one of them has to be shunted wide and played out of position.

    Can Van Gaal devise a plan to use both of them, or will he have to make the tough decision to relegate one of them to the bench?

Add Greater Presence to Central Midfield

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    Massimo Pinca/Associated Press

    The paucity of quality central midfielders at Old Trafford remains a major concern for a club of United’s stature and ambition. 

    Beyond new signing Ander Herrera stands the uninspiring Darren Fletcher, Michael Carrick, Tom Cleverley and Marouane Fellaini

    There is a real desperation amongst United fans for the rumours about the possible arrival of Arturo Vidal from Juventus, as reported by Stuart Mathieson in the Manchester Evening News, to be correct.

    The Chilean would be an ideal signing for United, but should it not happen, Van Gaal’s most pressing priority would still be to sign an established and experienced central midfielder.

Decide Who He Can Make His Project and Improve

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    Matthias Schrader/Associated Press

    One of the starkest aspects of David Moyes’ short regime was his failure to improve any of the United squad.

    The most talented young players David de Gea and Adnan Januzaj continued their natural progress, but beyond that the rest of the squad stagnated or, in many cases, regressed.

    Louis van Gaal knows he can’t buy a brand new team, and he must improve many of the players already there.

    He has an impressive track record for doing this, converting World Cup winner Bastian Schweinsteiger from a winger in to one of the world’s best defensive midfielders at Bayern Munich.

    Van Gaal needs to quickly decide which players he sees potential in, who he can make his project and draw more from.