Manchester United’s pre-season couldn’t have gone much better for Louis van Gaal as his side prepare for a crunch clash against Liverpool in the USA at 01:00 GMT tomorrow morning.
One of the biggest decisions that van Gaal is going to have to make before the Premier League game against Swansea is how to use Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney in the same attacking system.
It’s a key decision and in the Daily Mail’s preview of the season, it’s a decision which could leave van Gaal with more than just a headache if he doesn’t get it right.
“If the manager had one wish: That Robin van Persie has a season like the one he had two years ago and Wayne Rooney flourishes back in the centre-forward role he was born to play. If these two don’t fire over the next nine months then Van Gaal may wish he was back at AZ Alkmaar,” reports the paper.
Van Persie has only just returned to first team training following a World Cup campaign where he was a key component of the Netherlands team coached by van Gaal.
He’s likely to play at the very top of the attack, pressing the shoulder of the opposition defence and looking to make the most of the space in behind.
Van Persie is also likely to be playing the ‘poacher’ role in various situations rather than dropping off to get involved in the more creative, attacking build up play.
Rooney is definitely the more versatile of the two attacking options and someone LvG is more likely to slot in behind van Persie.
Rooney has the ability to play anywhere along the attack and can drift off into the midfield to help United bulk up when the side is under pressure in games against the club’s main rivals.
The pair already have plenty of experience of playing together but van Gaal is working on a very particular system based on the way he’s set United up throughout pre-season.
There’s no reason for him to base the attacking system around anyone other than van Persie and no reason Rooney shouldn’t enjoy creating chaos in a variety of attacking positions.