Man Utd: Herrera and James star as Van Gaal wins 7-0

Jul 24, 2014

Man United thrash LA Galaxy as Dutch coach unveils a new formation in his first game

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LA Galaxy 0 Manchester United 7. The Louis van Gaal era got off to an impressive start for Man United as they put seven goals past LA Galaxy in front of 86,000 people at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena.

Danny Welbeck opened United's account after just 13 minutes and Wayne Rooney scored twice before coming off at half time. Ashley Young and debutant defender Reece James both netted twice as United ran riot in the second half.

The scoreline was not all that was notable about Van Gaal's first match in charge. First there was his decision to overlook the claims of Rooney and make midfielder Darren Fletcher captain for the night. Fletcher and fellow midfielder Ander Herrera were the only two members of the starting XI to emerge for the second half as the United manager made nine changes at the break.

Van Gaal also used a new formation, similar to the one adopted by Holland in the World Cup. The Guardian describes it as a 5-2-3, while the Daily Telegraph calls it 3-4-1-2.

Whatever it's name, the formation employs three centre backs and in the first half new signing Luke Shaw and Antonio Valencia played as wing backs, while Juan Mata was utilised in attack behind Rooney and Welbeck. Fletcher and Herrera provided the base of the midfield.

Herrera, who David Moyes came so close to signing last summer, was United's "most impressive performer on a sultry night", says the Guardian.

The formation was "a significant change for a club long accustomed to playing a four-man defence", says The Times. "With a glut of playmakers and forwards from which to pick, Van Gaal believes the system switch will best utilise the attacking talent he has at his disposal."

The substitutions also indicated that Van Gaal was prepared to consider the merits of different players. "In changing his entire team during the interval, apart from midfielders Fletcher and Herrera, Van Gaal made good his promise to look at everyone before deciding who needs to be kept and who will be released," says the BBC.

The player who did most to impress in the second half was 20-year-old James, who notched two goals on his first appearance for the first team, although more established stars also shone.

It was an "incredible start, with Van Gaal’s blueprint already evident", says the Telegraph. "The big plus points were the performances of Herrera and Mata. They will find it tougher against stronger opposition, but the two Spaniards may give United a new dimension together."

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