Before Manchester United took the pitch at FedEx field in Washington DC against Inter Milan, Where United went 0-0 and won 5-3 on penalty shots, Louis Van Gaal gave a press conference that reaffirmed his focus on the Premier League and excitement for the Premier League season to begin. He also put his plans to test against Milan in a very intense match that had a few controversial moments after the 80th minute when Tom Cleverly was fouled and another foul after that resulted in a livid Van Gaal giving the sideline official the hairdryer, something the United squad have not seen since Fergie retired. Darren Fletcher took the winning shot after Inter defender Marco Andreolli hit the crossbar on his shot.
Van Gaal has taken over with almost an iron fist over the club, which after last season, is what United needs. With the mess Moyes left behind, Van Gaal needs to do a complete reorganization of the club, and it starts with the first team. He has made quite a few changes in order to benefit the squad, and more will be expected as the season rolls on.
Van Gaal has ordered many changes throughout the US tour such as a hotel change in LA to move players closer to the training ground, as well as ensuring the hotels the teams stay at have an atrium where the players can be social with each other instead of alone or in small cliques. United representatives were sent to both Denver and Washington to ensure those hotels also met Van Gaal’s standards and also fit his plans.
19 year old defender Luke Shaw has also seen these changes, as Van Gaal has stated that he is not in the physical shape that Van Gaal expects from him and has set him on a special conditioning program. Shaw did not start against Inter Milan but was subbed on at the start of the second half. Shaw trained alone during the training session the night before match day against Inter Milan, but joined the squad for the next session the next day. Shaw gave Van Gaal a display of good stamina with a long run through the Inter half of the pitch just before the 60th minute, however the defenders were quick to respond and the ball was taken shortly after.
The United squad have seemed fairly welcoming to Van Gaal’s changes and his plans. Juan Mata stated that he was in favour of Van Gaal’s style, as well as Robin Van Persie, who will be one of the big names on Van Gaal’s team sheet so long as he performs well. While Van Gaal and Van Persie have a very good relationship, relationships are one of the last thing Van Gaal looks at while choosing his team. Van Gaal also has the backing of Ryan Giggs (Now an assistant and no longer a player), something Moyes never had during his time with United.
Wayne Rooney has also been a spirited player showing his determination to take over as team captain, however the concern there is if Van Gaal does not choose him for that role, we may hear more crying from Wayne’s pram. Rooney has scored in the first two pre-season matches and failed to score during his half against Inter Milan but that may not be enough to convince Van Gaal as Rooney will need to show leadership on the pitch.
Van Gaal has made it clear from the start that he will have high standards for the United squad and his mentality seems to be similar to that of Sir Alex, who held all players to a high standard, and would make it known if he was unhappy with the players. Van Gaal will most likely bring the hairdryer back to Old Trafford, a term coined by the United squad for Fergie’s harsh lectures during halftime and post game locker room periods. Which seemed to work seeing as though the one year it was absent United took 7th.