Rene Meulensteen, a coach at Manchester United for 12 years under Ferguson’s regime, believes United have improved in the last few games, but Chelsea will provide their toughest test of the season.
‘’If we’re talking the about the calibre of opponent then yes, this will be United’s toughest test of the season so far,’’ the 50-year-old told SkySports.
‘’Van Gaal has obviously changed the system a few times. He tried his renowned 3-5-2 earlier in the season but he’s gone back to playing more of a back-four, which suits United better.
‘’But they’ve been struggling with players not available through injuries and can’t seem to get a settled defence, which means teams still look at United and think they’ll get chances to score goals and that counts against them.
‘’Mourinho will have a good look at how to exploit the weaknesses of United. You can’t put it beyond him to do something completely different. I’m not sure that will mean Didier Drogba will play if Diego Costa doesn't. He could even push Eden Hazard up there, with a lot of pace and energy upfront.’’
The analysis on Manchester United, and their improvement, is spot on. Louis van Gaal had a tough task trying to fit square pegs in round holes when implementing his 3-5-2 formation, and the decision on opening day to play Jesse Lingard and Ashley Young in the wing-back positions summed it up.
Since then, Louis van Gaal has switched to a 4-1-4-1 type formation and with the correct personnel in the correct positions, the performances have undoubtedly improved. Although, it has to be said, it wasn’t great against West Bromwich Albion Monday night.
Nevertheless, the talent is still rife within the United ranks and Chelsea must be wary of the threat it can carry. Juan Mata, Angel Di Maria and Falcao are all widely considered world class players and if allowed, they can hurt teams from out of nowhere.
The Chelsea defence will be primed to deal with any threat, and given the form the Blues back four are in, it’s going to be good to see how well they stand up to the test.