Louis van Gaal lauded his Manchester United side's "fantastic" performance during the 7-0 preseason win over Los Angeles Galaxy, but he believes David Moyes has left an unbalanced squad in place at Old Trafford.
The Dutchman couldn't ask for anything more during his debut match in charge and is impressed with his side's early progression in his favoured 3-5-2 formation. Even so, the experienced boss indicates too many similar attacking players could produce problems.
"We have four No. 10s, so the selection is not balanced in my eyes," said Van Gaal, as reported by talkSPORT.
"I have decided to play this system because of the quality of the players. But if we lose, I can change back to another system."
Ander Herrera, who can also fulfil the No. 10 role, starred with three assists in central midfield alongside Darren Fletcher, with Luke Shaw and Antonio Valencia playing as wing-backs on either side of centre-back trio Jonny Evans, Phil Jones and Chris Smalling.
You can watch the match highlights below:
One of Moyes' major failures at United was his inability to integrate the squad's attacking stars. His decision to provide Welbeck a lack of playing time up front left the workhorse considering his options, while the former boss continued to misuse both Mata and Kagawa in wide roles.
Despite suggesting Rooney would play further forward, an unambitious 4-2-3-1 formation didn't let this happen when Robin van Persie was fit.
United fans will be overjoyed to have signed Mata, but Moyes' decision to bring in the former Chelsea player during the January transfer window only added to his immediate selection problems.
The switch to 3-5-2, which transitions to 5-3-2 when needed, certainly allows Van Gaal to make the best use of United's current squad.
Valencia is perhaps the only winger who deserves a starting role and has proved himself useful in a deeper position, while the extra forward allows Rooney to fulfil his attacking promise and Mata to show his creativity behind.
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Kagawa will then only battle with the Spaniard for a starting role in the central position they both prefer. Welbeck can fight for a place in the front two alongside Javier Hernandez, who needs a strike partner to find his best form.
Traditional wingers are sacrificed in this formation, but the likes of Nani and Ashley Young have done little to suggest they can hold down a spot in the first team (aside from the latter's brace against L.A. Galaxy).
Shaw's attacking instincts can also be utilised in the progressive 3-5-2, where the extra centre-back will cover the recently acquired Englishman.
Granted, the trio of Evans, Jones and Smalling appears questionable on paper, but United are expected to improve their centre-back selection with potential signings such as Stefan de Vrij and Mats Hummels, per Stuart Mathieson of the Manchester Evening News.
The new boss is determined to install a sense of character and attacking flair into a team that lacked confidence last season. This was partly due to players underperforming and partly due to negative tactics.
As noted by Musa Okwonga, freelance writer for the BBC and ESPN, the changes have already begun:
Van Gaal used the word "philosophy" 11 times in his first #MUFC press conference. Very slowly, we are beginning to see what he means.— Musa Okwonga (@Okwonga) July 24, 2014
Van Gaal was certainly pleased after his side's initial showing, saying, per talkSPORT: "It is fantastic how they have performed today. When you see us train, you can expect something but not 7-0. It was a surprise, but they were beautiful goals and beautiful attacks."
United have long been associated with "beautiful" football, a concept that rapidly slipped away under Moyes' guidance. There's no doubt the current squad needs to regain its balance through the acquisition of vital stars and dismissal of deadwood, but for now, a switch in tactical emphasis is refreshing. Management is about utilising what you've got, after all.
Moyes' ill-fated tenure will be quickly forgotten if Van Gaal transforms United into the title-challenging side they should be, even if he has to sacrifice a No. 10 to do so.