Manchester United added to arch-rivals Manchester City’s recent woes with a 4-2 defeat of the champions at Old Trafford on Sunday.
The defeat was another blow for City and their bewildered boss Manuel Pellegrini.
The victory was a confirmation that United are moving in the right direction under Louis van Gaal.
A couple of months ago some Manchester United fans were questioning whether veteran Dutch boss Louis van Gaal was the right man to move their club forward.
The veteran boss was accused of being arrogant and egotistical by the British media. As his time in football management has proven he probably is both of those things, but he is also a winner when given time.
Fast forward a few months and six consecutive victories have moved the Red Devils up to third place in the Premier League table and ten points clear of fifth-place Southampton.
Van Gaal’s team are also now four points clear of neighbours City in the race to secure an automatic Champions League spot for next season.
Everything now seems to have clicked into gear for Van Gaal and his team in recent months. The turnabout has been inspired by three players who has struggled to find their best form at United.
Former-boss David Moyes was criticised for his signing of giant Belgium international Marouane Fellaini from former-club Everton. His signing was associated with Moyes perceived failure at United to bring so called big players.
Fellaini struggled to establish himself last season because of injuries and poor form. However, in spells earlier this season and the last month in particular the gangly midfielder has been superb for the Red Devils. The standing ovation on his substitution from yesterday’s game told its own story.
It was obvious to everybody that Fellaini’s strength in the air could cause any defence problems and Van Gaal is playing to Fellaini’s strengths. Unsurprisingly the midfielder has now hit the sort of form that he produced at Everton to earn him the big money move to United in the first place.
Spanish midfielder Juan Mata arrived for a club-record fee at United from Premier League rivals Chelsea. Prior to Jose Mourinho’s arrival at Stamford Bridge he was considered one their most important players.
However, Mourinho did not rate Mata due to his perceived lack of tracking back, so he moved to Old Trafford in the winter transfer window of 2014. The Spaniard had struggled to regain his best form, until the last month of this season.
He now looks more like the player that won Chelsea Player of the Year in consecutive campaigns. He is even putting in the work for the team, but is allowed freedom to roam in his attacking midfielder position from where he can cause opposition defences problems.
Winger Ashley Young has undergone an amazing transformation this season. He had endured a frustrating 18 months through injuries and poor form, after enjoying an encouraging start to his United career.
His good form started in pre-season and for much of the campaign he has performed well for Van Gaal’s team. The former-Aston villa man scored the equaliser for United against City and also got two assists. He is suddenly a major threat to opposition defences after his career stalled.
Van Gaal has to be credited with reviving the trio, as his management and tactics have played a part in bringing the best out of the trio.
Van Gaal has never really been a boss that got instant results. He needs time to assess his team’s strengths and weaknesses, but when he has, has brought a shower of silverware everywhere he has went.
The Dutchman obviously now knows a lot more about his squad and the players seem to be responding well to his methods.
Manchester United have made progress under Van Gaal and ironically it is not his signings that have made that happen.
Is is the form of the aforementioned trio and England captain Wayne Rooney being restored to a striking role that have had major influences on United’s current form.
The last few months of United’s campaign have proven that the Red Devils are moving in the right direction under Louis van Gaal and with the right signings they could be a major challenger for the Premier League title next season.
Is United’s current form down to the management of Louis van Gaal?