New Manchester United boss Louis van Gaal has dismissed claims he has too many similar attacking players in his squad, claiming the 3-5-2 system he’s implementing will allow him to accommodate all the talent at his disposal.
Van Gaal used the system with the Netherlands at the World Cup this summer to great effect, guiding his side to a third-place finish, whilst receiving many plaudits for his tactical nous.
During the club’s pre-season tour of the USA the Dutchman stressed that the formation will not only allow him to feature Wayne Rooney, Robin van Persie and Juan Mata in the lineup, but also find roles for the likes of Danny Welbeck, Javier Hernandez and even youngster Will Keane.
"That’s one argument for why I’ve chosen this system. I can play them all," he told Sky Sports News. "But don’t forget all the others, because Hernandez can also play in the striker’s position, so can Welbeck. Maybe Will Keane can play there, because he can still develop his game.
"Then Rooney – he can play as a number nine, number 10, and then he said to me he can play [in midfield] as a seven or 11, but I like more at nine or 10.
"When you look at the quality of your players you see Rooney, Van Persie, Hernandez, Mata, Welbeck, [Marouane] Fellaini, [Ander] Herrera – a lot of players can play this system.
"With this system, two strikers can play, the number 10 can play and two midfielders can play, so the specialists become the wing-backs. It's very flexible."
Having thumped the LA Galaxy 7-0 in van Gaal’s opening game, United have gone on to defeat Roma 3-2 and Inter Milan 5-3 on penalties using their new system, with other attackers such as Ashley Young, Wilfried Zaha, Nani and Shinji Kagawa all playing some part in the victories.
While many believe the club still need to strengthen their defence ahead of the new season, it had been assumed that the surplus of riches at the other end of the pitch would see several members of the squad shipped out this summer.
However, van Gaal’s comments suggest he is keen to continue experimenting with his side before his first Premier League game in charge, although, with no European football after last season’s disappointing seventh-place finish, competition for minutes in the first-team will be as fierce as ever.