Manchester United will take on Roma on Saturday, with Louis van Gaal hoping his second outing as boss proves as impressive as his first. When Van Gaal was announced as David Moyes’s replacement, there were doubts about whether his unquestionably brilliant football mind had faded; would his arrogance and stubbornness be more trouble than it was worth? Right now, Van Gaal is all genius. An emphatic 7-0 win over Los Angeles Galaxy to kick off Manchester United’s tour of the United States and his time in the dugout was an illustration of the Midas touch the former Ajax, Barcelona and Bayern Munich coach possesses.
The World Cup showed that he still has one of the sharpest minds in the game. No coach tweaked his side so regularly to such good effect in Brazil. With a far from convincing squad, Van Gaal repeatedly rotated formations en route to a third place finish for the Netherlands. Boosted by that boon to his reputation, Van Gaal has already made his impact felt at United. Despite being at one of the world’s biggest clubs, he had no qualms about stating that the club would have to bend to some of his wishes about what he sees as the over-extended length of their pre-season U.S. tour.
His on the pitch debut could not have been any more impressive either. Against Galaxy, Van Gaal went with the same three-at-the back formation he utilized so impressively through much of the World Cup. Despite it being alien to Manchester United and the vast majority of its players, United ran out resounding winners. It’s no wonder that assistant manager Ryan Giggs has already compared Van Gaal to his former boss, the great Sir Alex Ferguson.
“They have an aura about them,” he said, according to The Guardian. “That comes from the success they have had. They demand the players respond and they demand respect. In the short space of time I have worked with him you can see why he has been a success. He is infectious. He wants everything right from the first minute of training to the last. Everything we are working from is the blueprint he sent over from the World Cup, every minute of every session is laid down. He has now taken over.”
After his first match, Van Gaal suggested the new formation was here to stay. While he will need to use the transfer window to modify his squad for the 3-4-1-2 system, it is likely to be seen again in Denver. One of the two players United have signed this summer, Ander Herrera, put on a debut performance to further encourage that he could provide a major boost to a midfield that has lacked so much for so long. Manchester United’s other signing, Luke Shaw, had a more modest first outing and was even outshone by another first-team debutant, Reece James. The 20-year-old scored two goals after replacing Shaw at half-time and will now be hoping to get a start. Having joined the tour late, Javier Hernández could feature for the first time on Saturday.
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The match against Roma will be both sides’ first in the International Champions Cup, which features a host of Europe’s elite clubs preparing for their new seasons across North America. Roma can now very much consider themselves among the continent’s premier clubs, having last season earned a return to the Champions League for the first time in four years.
The side from the Italian capital enjoyed a fine first campaign under the charge of manager Rudi Garcia, finishing second in Serie A to Juventus. Like United they have already played a match on their U.S. tour, beating Liverpool 1-0 on Wednesday in a game that saw a debut for Roma’s biggest signing of the summer, Juan Iturbe.
Match details: The International Champions Cup Pool A match will kick off from the Sports Authority Field in Denver at 4:10 p.m. ET. Coverage will be provided by Fox, with a live stream provided by Fox Soccer 2Go.