Soccer

Five issues Van Gaal had at Man Utd and how they compare to Solskjaer’s problems

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When Louis van Gaal joined Manchester United in 2014, he was tasked with bringing glory back to the club.

David Moyes had been sacked weeks prior to the appointment after a terrible year in charge that saw the Red Devils finish seventh.

Under Sir Alex Ferguson, the lowest they had finished was third.

LVG arrived at a club with five major problems – coaching staff, deadwood players, captaincy, tactics and pre-season commitments.

The Dutchman ultimately failed, though he did win the FA Cup only to be sacked moments after and be replaced by Jose Mourinho.

Now United have hired his replacement in the shape of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and two years down the line with the Norweigan, how are the club looking now?

Coaching staff

Solskjaer realised early on that disbanding the coaching team that Fergie had at the club was a very ridiculous decision.

Bringing back Mike Phelan, a long-term servant under United's best-ever manager, was a masterstroke.

If the quality has been missing at Old Trafford at times, the character certainly has not and that can be put down to Phelan's winning mentality.

Deadwood players

LVG had the likes of Tom Cleverley, Shinji Kagawa and Alexander Buttner – who he offloaded for pennies.

United still have the same problems – with Phil Jones, Marcos Rojo and Jesse Lingard all still at the club – but Solskjaer cannot seem to cut ties as Van Gaal did.

Much of that is down to finances with the Old Trafford powers demanding ridiculous transfer fees that no feasible club would pay, especially in today's financial climate.

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Captaincy

This is one issue that Solskjaer has solved with ease, though there were early problems during his reign.

The signing of Harry Maguire, a steep £80m from Leicester, heralded the type of defender the former United striker wanted – a British, imposing figure at the back – who can play out with his feet.

The England international was almost immediately given the captain's armband and will be so for many years to come.

Tactics

Van Gaal had a particular style of play that he took across Europe and won him trophies, playing 4-3-3, though he was flexible when he needed to be.

But his tactics did not woo the Old Trafford crowd as they were regularly bored stiff and whatever the opinion of Solskjaer, that is not the case.

It remains to be seen whether he has a genuine philosophy as he dabbles between systems but he seems to have settled on a 4-2-3-1 formation.

Pre-season

Solskjaer's pre-season commitments started out rocky, when in 2018 Alexis Sanchez was not allowed to join up with the squad due to visa problems.

But last year was a much better success, taking his team across Asia as well as a trip to his homeland in Norway.

That included wins over Inter Milan, Tottenham and Leeds United.

  • Manchester United FC
  • Ole Gunnar Solskjaer
  • FA Cup
  • Premier League
  • Harry Maguire
  • Jose Mourinho
  • Sir Alex Ferguson

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