Louis Van Gaal to adopt a 5-3-2 formation at Manchester United?

In a recent press conference Louis Van Gaal announced to the world that he would be using the 5-3-2 formation with the Netherlands for the Upcoming World Cup. This came as a surprise to most as Louis Van Gaal has been a strong believer in the 4-3-3 formation throughout his career.

As united fans this should excite us as this once again proves that Louis Van Gaal is a man who is ready to take risks and change things up with a plan B, something which David Moyes was unable to do during his disastrous spell as united manager.

Van Gaal himself stated that the main reason for him adopting this new formation is the absence of Kevin Strootman a box to box player who Van Gaal sees as irreplaceable. Van Gaal is likely to face the same problem when he joins up with the United squad after the world cup. United’s lack of quality in central midfield and the lackluster performances of our wingers may result in Louis Van Gaal continuing to use this system at Manchester united. Let’s look at all the different departments and which players could fill in the positions at Manchester United in this 5-3-2 formation. We will be looking at Players currently at the club and unlike many “How will Manchester United line up under Van Gaal next season” articles we wouldn’t be considering potential signings.



De Gea: Guaranteed starter whether Van Gaal plays his traditional 4-3-3 or the 5-3-2. De Gea has proved all his doubters wrong over the last two seasons and deservingly swept the awards at the end of season awards for last season.

Center Backs:

Chris Smalling, Phil Jones and Jonny Evans are the only first team center backs remaining at the club since the departure of Vidic and Ferdinand. Out of the three one would need to play the role of a ball playing defender who starts attacks from deep. Jones and Evans are both good with the ball at their feet and have previously shown that they are more than capable of doing that job. Undoubtedly this is an area united must significantly invest in the summer.


When the team is attacking this formation essentially takes the form of a 3-5-2 formation with the wing backs providing the width in the system. All united fans will agree that Patrice Evra, Rafael and even Buttner are better going forward than defending. Evra and Rafael were much more productive in attack and a much bigger threat going forward than most of our wingers last season. We have seen Valencia playing right wing back in the past and this could be another option that Louis Van Gaal could explore.

Changes to 3-5-2 when attacking


The biggest problem Louis Van Gaal will face when he arrives at Manchester United. The lack of quality in Central Midfield. The signing of Mourane Fellaini was United’s first major central midfield signing since 2007/2008 season. In the past neither Cleverly nor Fellaini have proven that they can play the supporting role required to complement Carrick’s Deep Lying Role. It also remains to be seen whether Anderson has a future at the club. Fletcher was able to compliment Carrick as his partner in midfield before his career was derailed by sickness but it remains to be seen whether he can reach the heights of times gone by and do the tough tackling ball wining job in midfield. This is a position United are desperately in need of investment whether Van Gaal plays the 4-3-3 or the 5-3-2.

The biggest plus side to using this 5-3-2 system would be that it would allow Juan Mata to flourish in his desired role behind the strikers. In Van Gaal’s 4-3-3 Mata would most likely be limited to a wider role or a deeper midfield role. But where does the 5-3-2 leave the likes of Januzaj, Kagawa, Nani, Young, Zaha and Valencia? Adnan Januzaj and Shinji Kagawa may be limited to competing with Mata for his role in the team. The Likes of Nani, Young and Zaha would be limited to appearances off the bench if Van Gaal decides to change things up and revert to a 4-3-3 in the middle of a game.


In Van Persie and Rooney Manchester United have two of the best strikers in the league. Van Persie’s first season at United showed us glimpses that the pair of Rooney and Van Persie could prove to be devastating when played together. In a 4-3-3 Rooney would be shifted to a wide position which would not give united the best he has to offer. Love him or hate him Rooney is one of the best players in the squad. Plus playing two strikers instead of one provides the opportunity for Welbeck and Hernandez to play in Central Roles when required.

So what do you think? Should Louis Van Gaal use this 5-3-2 Formation or stick to his favoured 4-3-3 or should he try a different formation at United? Comment in the United Ramble comments section below.