Louis van Gaal has turned around Manchester United’s fortunes magnificently in recent weeks. Not only has he changed the system to his preferred 4-3-3, but their energy and tempo has also increased drastically.
United have not only beaten Tottenham Hotspur, Liverpool and now Manchester City in recent games but they have dominated each game in both possession and chances created whilst using a high press effectively, forcing their opponents into errors high up the pitch.
A major focus has been on the use of triangles all over the pitch, giving the player who is in possession a minimum of two options to choose from when they have the ball.
This tactic has seen a tremendous understanding develop on the left-hand side between Ashley Young, Marouane Fellaini and Daley Blind, who wrecked all sorts of havoc all afternoon on Sunday.
United’s opening three goals all came from good work down the left flank and the fourth came a superb Young delivery from a set piece.
The English winger has been a revelation this season and has become a regular in van Gaal’s team, having been written off as a flop by many after a disappointing campaign under David Moyes.
Young picked up the Man of the Match award against City after he scored the equaliser and assisted two more goals.
Likewise, Fellaini has won over his critics and is combining excellent aerial work with significant link-up play in the final third. His tendency to peel off to the left-hand flank is paying off for United as it drags the opposing full-back inside, giving Young and Blind space to work with on the overlap.
The link-up play between the trio is superb and very difficult to defend against. They have been constantly getting in behind down that flank with their direct running and intricate exchanges.
The triangle on the left-hand side that has developed has become United’s main angle of attack. With Ander Herrera, Michael Carrick and Juan Mata conducting the midfield, the trio have been offering fantastic outlets.
The overload of the left-hand side not only gives them extra options but it allows more space in other areas of the pitch too.
But when Blind or Young have been tasked with putting quality crosses into the box, they have delivered. Young in particular has improved this area of his game massively this season and it showed as he created two goals on Sunday.
People may question why Angel Di Maria, the British record signing, is still sat on United’s bench. Well, the answer is that this trio have made themselves become undroppable in recent weeks.