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Van Gaal: United's squad was broken

ESPN staff
July 29, 2014 « Messi and father to face tax charges | Day 6: Maria Ho eliminated, 68 left »
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Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal claims he has inherited an unbalanced and "broken" squad - and is trying to move on Marouane Fellaini to help repair the situation.

Van Gaal denied that succeeding David Moyes would be easier than following Sir Alex Ferguson, who won 13 titles in 26 years at Old Trafford.

In the Dutchman's eyes, Ferguson left Moyes with a team of winners. He says he is inheriting a "broken" squad awash with attacking midfielders.

"No," Van Gaal said when asked whether following Ferguson would have been harder. "I don't agree. I had to follow Bobby Robson at Barcelona the year after he won three titles and there wasn't a problem (Van Gaal won the league that year).

No mind games with Mourinho

  • New Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal says he is not interested in engaging in mind games with other managers, particularly his old colleague Jose Mourinho.
  • Chelsea manager Mourinho, who worked under Van Gaal at Barcelona, appeared to rile the Dutchman's feathers with recent claims over United's capture of Luke Shaw. However, Van Gaal insists he will not be drawn into petty games.
  • He told Sky Sports: "I don't think I will fall out with him [Mourinho]. He is my friend. I don't think [I will fall out with] all the other managers. I have full respect for all my colleagues.
  • "For me [mind games] are not so interesting. I have to manage my club. That is already difficult enough. I am not concerned with other clubs or other managers."
"When there is success you have a very good squad, and now I have to follow and the squad was broken I think.

"When you look at the squad, there is quality. There is [Wayne] Rooney, [Robin] van Persie, [Javier] Hernandez, [Danny] Welbeck, but you also see Juan Mata, Fellaini, and you see [Ander] Herrera. There are a lot of players that can play in the same position.

"It is not in balance. It's more difficult to succeed in a difficult situation than in a fantastic situation."

Van Gaal will look to address the imbalance in his squad by moving Fellaini on with reports suggesting, again, that he has made it clear to senior United figures that the £27.5-million signing by Moyes does not feature in his plans.

Napoli are said to be interested in the Belgium midfielder, who returned to training at United's Carrington training base on Monday, and United are reportedly prepare to take a hit on the price they paid for him, being ready to sell for around £13m. However, Napoli manager Rafael Benitez is thought to prefer a loan deal.

Van Gaal will also address the squad imbalance by trying to sign at least two players over the next three weeks - rumoured to be Thomas Vermaelen and Mats Hummels.

He has been monitoring the recovery of injured Roma midfielder Kevin Strootman, who is valued at £79m, while the club is also thought to be keeping tabs on Real Madrid winger Angel Di Maria.

Van Gaal insists he will not pay over the odds for any transfer targets though after spending more than £50 million on Herrera and Luke Shaw this summer. The manager has been told he can break transfer records

"I don't buy players for buying players - I buy players to improve my selection," Van Gaal said. "First I have to see what we need in all the positions from the system we shall play. At this moment, I don't know for sure if we will play this system [4-3-3].

'Unfit' Shaw ordered to train alone

  • Louis van Gaal has handed £27 million signing Luke Shaw his own personal training regime away from the rest of the squad because he feels the defender is not fit enough for Premier League football.
  • Meanwhile, Wilfried Zaha will be given a chance to shine against Inter Milan on Tuesday.
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"When we play 4-3-3 we will use more or less the same players. But I will need more specialists on the wings and more attacking players - then, we have to buy another type of player."

United fans can expect Van Gaal to use that particular system more often as it means he can accommodate Rooney, Van Persie and club-record signing Mata in the same team.

"That is one argument for why I choose this system - then, I can play them all. That's also important but we don't forget all the others. Hernandez can also play in the striker's position, Welbeck can also play in the striker's position and maybe Will Keane can play in that position," Van Gaal said.

"Rooney can play No.10 and No.9 and he said to me he can also play No.11 and No.7. But I like him more at No.9 or No.10."

Rooney impressed in the club's recent friendly victory against Roma and earned special praise from his manager. The England striker is desperate to claim the United captaincy and wants to star under Van Gaal. However, his manager insists he still needs more time to determine who will captain his side in the new season.

"For me the choice of the captain is always very important. He is the captain on the pitch and he can enlarge my influence but he needs to have the same philosophy and way of seeing life. It's not simple to choose so I need time to do that," Van Gaal said.

"It's dependable on personality. The captain doesn't have to be the most senior player. For me, it's more about the personality and mentality and the way he stands in life is very important."

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