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Respite for Van Gaal to decide the future of his Man United strategy

After three Premier League matches, Manchester United, 5/4 to finish in the top four this season, sit 14th in the table with just two points. There are no prizes for identifying the obvious, and some people have found fault for United’s dismal start like there is a reward for it.

New boss Louis van Gaal doesn’t seem to have had any luck implementing his 3-4-1-2 formation, and whether the new recruits he has brought in make a difference to the system remains to be seen.

However, he now has at least a week to think about where to go from here as far as the team is concerned. The international break probably couldn’t have come at a better time, after United’s stalemate draw at Burnley, and gives him a reprieve.

Van Gaal will observe the members of his squad who are on international duty, and how they are utilised, to understand ways that he can optimise them the best. There have been suggestions that a swift switch back to playing four in defence could be the best option going forward, and playing Daley Blind as a holding player in a midfield diamond.

Essentially when full backs attack in this system, the anchorman drops deep to make it a back three anyway, and this tactical versatility could be a better strategy for Van Gaal to employ.

With Angel Di Maria and Ander Hererra further forward, this would also accommodate Wayne Rooney at the head of the diamond, with Flying Dutchman Robin van Persie and Colombia hitman Radamel Falcao forming what could become a lethal strike partnership.

United’s star loan signing is 12/1 to be Premier League top scorer this season, and has already netted for parent club Monaco so far this campaign. One player who could be crucial to Falcao’s form is Antonio Valencia, who has been crying out for a target to hit in the area since he arrived at the club.

The Ecuadorian has shown he can play in a right back role and, with Blind deployed in an anchorman role, the team would have requisite cover should Valencia be used as United’s chief supplier to their new number nine.

All things considered, Van Gaal has a number of good options open to him and it is by no means a catastrophe. If he scraps three in his rearguard, United have a great chance. There is plenty for the Dutchman to mull over in the next week.