Van Gaal era starts with change, a win
PASADENA, Calif. -- After Louis van Gaal's reign as Manchester United boss began with a 7-0 win vs. the Los Angeles Galaxy, the biggest takeaway for the Dutchman had more to do with his team's formation than with the final score.
"When you want to change a system, you have to start at once," said Van Gaal, whose United team came out in a 3-5-2 alignment. "The other system that Manchester United play is 4-3-3. They have played it for many years.
"I can change when this system doesn't work. With the quality of players we have, we can play better this system because we have four strikers."
The results on the field spoke for themselves, as Man United dominated the first half in nearly every aspect of the game. Danny Welbeck opened the scoring in the 12th minute with a 25-yard shot that glanced off the left post and into the net past Galaxy keeper Jaime Penedo.
Wayne Rooney added a goal from the penalty spot after a Galaxy handball in the box and another right before halftime when Galaxy defender Tommy Meyer missed a cross from Welbeck. United's No. 10 was there to put it away to give his side a 3-0 lead at halftime.
"Always the result does matter. With such results you get confidence and also confidence in the system," Van Gaal said. "When you see us train you can expect something but not 7-0. That was a surprise and they were beautiful goals."
Van Gaal also explained that the new system gives him greater flexibility to use what he feels are his team's strengths up front.
"We have four No. 10s, so the selection is not balanced in my eyes," he said. "When we play 4-3-3, I have three strikers on the bench and that is not good because I want to play with two strikers."
The new United boss said that if things don't work out with the new formation, he is always open to changing it to something else. But for now, he's happy with the way things went after the first try with a new philosophy.
"When I am introducing a new system, every good result helps in confidence," Van Gaal said. "It is better to win 7-0 than to lose and the players doubt the system. Now I don't have that problem."
Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena tipped his hat to United and their new formation, saying it closely resembled the approach Van Gaal used with his Dutch team during their run to the semifinals of the World Cup in Brazil.
"They played with a back three and some version of a 3-5-2 or 3-4-3 and that's a big change for a Manchester United," Arena said. "They are a club that's traditionally in a 4-4-2 or 4-3-3.
"You know I'm sure he's going to get some new players and be a little more dangerous going forward and get the players that fit those tactics in the right way. They are certainly going to be a good team this year; it's going to be a great campaign in the Premiership."