Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal says he has not been able to exploit his team setup in recent Premier League matches because his hands have been tied by injuries.
Last weekend at Aston Villa, the Dutch boss resorted to the same 3-5-2 formation as was the case in the home win over Liverpool. Ashley Young and Antonio Valencia have been employed in wing-back roles in the absence of Rafael, who is yet to make his first start since the 1-1 draw with Chelsea, and Luke Shaw, sidelined with an ankle ligament damage sustained during the win at Arsenal.
“I have to select what I want but now I am forced to select,” Van Gaal told MUTV. “For a manager, that is not good.”
Young and Valencia have been reliable in United’s attacking arsenal; the former providing an assist for Radamel Falcao’s leveler at Villa Park last weekend and the latter also setting up a goal in the emphatic win over Liverpool.
The 63-year-old admitted that the two wingers have done well for the team but cannot wait to have his full-backs back.
Asked how pleased he has been with Young and Valencia, Van Gaal replied: “Yeah, but as wing-backs and not as full-backs. Now I am more or less obliged to play with wing-backs because the real full-backs, Shaw and Rafael da Silva, were not fit enough and that is not good.”
Midfielder, Angel Di Maria, has also been forced to play in wider positions on the attack in recent matches and the Dutch boss says that is also as a result of his limited options in the midfield, with Daley Blind and Maroaune Fellaini presently sidelined.
Newcastle’s visit to Old Trafford on Boxing Day presents another opportunity for the ‘Red Devils’ to return to winning ways after watching their six-game winning run end with a draw in midland. United are third in the table into the busy Christmas schedule, in which they will face three different opponents in the space of seven days.
Aside the opening day loss to Swansea, Van Gaal’s side have won all their home matches this season.
The manager has been backed by many of the club’s hierarchy to excel, most recently by former manager Sir Alex Ferguson, who presently serves in a director’s role following his retirement.
The Scot believes United will re-emerge stronger when the injury situations are over with, telling BT Sport “he (Van Gaal) is a great coach, he’ll do well.”
Van Gaal added: “It is fantastic when you come to Manchester United. You hope, because I know Sir Alex, that he shall support you. When he is supporting you, because he is doing that not only this week but also other conferences he gave, he shows a lot of confidence in belief in me; that I need as a trainer coach, as a manager of Manchester United.
“You need the belief and support of managers such as Sir Alex, but also from Sir Bobby Charlton and David Gill. I have the belief, so I’m very happy with that because then you can work in a more easy way. It’s also a pressure because he believes in you, and it gives you that pressure that you have to give results. It is not so easy to win the Premier League matches.”