As far as success stories go, Louis Van Gaal will script one of the best if he can guide Manchester United to the second spot in the English Premier League following successive wins against Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur. Currently on the 4th spot with 59 points, United are two points behind Manchester City who are playing second fiddle to Chelsea who on the other hand seem to be running away with the league title. So will Louis Van Gaal pull off what would have been considered as impossible a few months back? Lets analyze the team.
To be able to visit Anfield with Liverpool playing their best football of the season is a daunting task for any club. More so if you are Manchester United and are competing with your arch rivals for a place in the top four in order to qualify for the Champions League. However, not only did Van Gaala s side came out unscathed from the encounter, they put forward an impressive display as they dominated Brendan Rodgersa men to earn three crucial points. Two brilliant goals from the a out of favoura midfielder Juan Mata helped give the Red Devils a comfortable lead into the game and though Sturridgea s strike did give Liverpool an outside chance of winning the game, United comfortably fended off the challenge till the final whistle. This is the second victory in a row for Van Gaal against big teams as he visited Anfield after thrashing Tottenham Hotspur 3-0 at Old Trafford. There was a time when Manchester United were struggling against small teams and dropped points with shocking regularity. However it seems that Manchester United have turned over a new leaf and the confidence and ease with which they are playing currently, makes them a tough opposition to beat.
Wayne Rooney has been leading the charge in Manchester Uniteda s turnaround after being promoted from the midfield. Due to a series of injuries, including the one to Michael Carrick, Rooney had been deputed to the midfield where his ability to run at defenders was limited. With Van Persie now injured and Radamel Falcao woefully out of form, Van Gaal has decided to let Rooney lead the teama s attack, a decision that has reaped him rich dividends. The presence of Michael Carrick in the midfield has added a sense of calm to the team as the Englishman has the ability to control the tempo of the game while picking out the right passes for his team-mates. Combined with the presence of Ander Herrera and Fellaini in the midfield, it seems that Van Gaal has finally got his combination in the midfield right.
As far his wingers are concerned, Van Gaal has in Ashley Young a dedicated team-player, who might not be an Eden Hazard, but has the ability to cross the ball into the box with effective ease. Young is probably one of the most improved players in the team and his presence in the starting line-up, despite the availability of Angel Di Maria stands testimony to his contribution. Juan Mata, the a out-of-favoura Spaniard seems to have been offered a second life after Di Mariaa s sending off. The former Chelsea man was effective against Tottenham and stole the show at Anfield with a brilliant first goal and a sublime second. With Di Maria also available, it looks like Van Gaal has enough fire-power to lead a serious charge as the season comes to an end.
The Road Ahead
But if Manchester United are to end the season on a successful note, they will have to keep an eye on the prize. Consecutive difficult fixtures await the Red Devils and the failure to adapt to every challenge could prove catastrophic for Van Gaal. They host Aston Villa at in the first week of April before hosting arch rivals Manchester City who would be aching to earn three valuable points at Old Trafford. The Manchester derby is followed by a visit to Stamford Bridge where Van Gaal will meet his former apprentice Jose Mourinho in an enticing battle. Manchester United then travel to Everton before playing West Brom (Home) and Crystal Palace (Away). The Red Devils will also come face to face with a direct rival for a Champions League spot in Arsenal as Arsene Wenger and his men visit Old Trafford before United face their last fixture against Hull City.
If Manchester United are to claim a place with the Europea s elite, they will have to navigate a series of tricky fixtures in order to make a strong case for themselves. With Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester United all looking to qualify for Champions League next season, this season is building up for an exciting climax.