Obey him or out you go

Brace yourself, Manchester United.

Louis van Gaal is coming.

The Dutchman will officially start work at Carrington today and if the misfiring, under-performing stars of the club believe that they can get away with another season like last year, they're in for a nasty surprise.

Van Gaal has no time for reputations or bad attitudes.

He will expect hard work, obedience and immediate success. His first task will be to choose a new club captain, a decision that shouldn't have a tangible effect on anything, but in reality is a political hot potato.

There have already been suggestions in the press that Wayne Rooney believes his seniority entitles him to the armband, but van Gaal, who values loyalty, may take a dim view of the Englishman's repeated attempts to leave the club for their rivals.

Robin van Persie, a noted lieutenant of his, is the obvious choice, but his appointment could look like favouritism.

Then there is the question of training.

Initially, United's players welcomed David Moyes' focus on fitness, but that soon wore off. Van Gaal has plans for double training sessions and is already arranging facilities for players to stay at Carrington in special boardings.


Expanded training sessions are always a risky move.

Footballers tend to resent being made to work harder or longer than they have worked before.

But opposing van Gaal would be an unwise decision for any player who wishes to stay in Manchester for an extended period of time. Tactically, it will be fascinating to see how van Gaal sets his players up.

He took Holland to within a penalty shoot-out of the World Cup final using a back three, but United are not at all accustomed to that shape.

With Phil Jones, Chris Smalling and Johnny Evans, they would certainly have players with the pace and judgment to make it work, but it would still be a gamble.

It is more likely than van Gaal will opt for a variant of 4-3-3, the formation he almost certainly would have used had he not been robbed of the services of Kevin Strootman shortly before the tournament began.

That means just a single striker, which will again force a choice between van Persie and Rooney.

Given the anger and offence caused by Moyes' innocuous comment last summer about Rooney being "good back-up" to van Persie, van Gaal will have to tread carefully. Will Rooney settle for a role out wide?

There will surely be new arrivals to the club as well.

Luke Shaw is likely to be given a first-team slot, now that Patrice Evra has made his intention to leave clear and, with Alexander Buttner already out the door, more back-up will be required.


Ander Herrera's arrival from Atletico Bilbao finally gives United some dynamism in the middle, but he can't do it on his own. Michael Carrick was poor last season and isn't getting any younger.

Darren Fletcher has struggled with health issues, Marouane Fellaini has flailed hopelessly in the centre for club and country and the less said about Tom Cleverley the better.

Perhaps van Gaal will give Anderson one more chance to fulfil his potential.

The Brazilian midfielder has been named in the club's pre-season tour to the United States.

There were many reasons for Moyes' failure, but his caution and indecisiveness certainly ranked highly. There will be none of that from van Gaal.

He believes himself to be the best in the business and he will take it as a personal insult if the players do not agree.

With hard work, intelligence and better players, there is no doubt that he can restore United to their perch, especially given that last season was so open.

But he will not stand for dissent and he will quell all opposition.

If nothing else, the next few months are going to be hugely entertaining.

I hope the group in Manchester will become like this (Holland) one. We have to sing from the same hymn sheet. I hope at Manchester United I can do my best. I will do my best. Whether that's enough for the fans, I will wait and see, but I genuinely hope that will be the case. - Louis van Gaal

This article was first published on July 16, 2014. Get The New Paper for more stories.