Van Gaal’s risks rewarded as Man United regain scoring touch


The win against Swansea City wasn’t the prettiest of wins in Manchester United’s history but it will do.

Without a victory in their previous eight games in all competitions, the pressure has been building on Louis Van Gaal at Old Trafford.

[ MORE: Wenger hails Arsenal ]

In their first game of 2016 he set his team up in a slightly different formation with a diamond in midfield and let Anthony Martial roam out wide and Wayne Rooney float around up top.

Despite a late scare after Swansea had equalized and a dour first half, it worked with both Rooney (watch his stunning game-winner here) and Martial scoring and LVG praised his team — plus also gave himself a little pat on the back — for being more adventurous.

“I think we played a very risky system against Swansea because they had a shape with four midfielders in a diamond. We played with three defenders but we did very well and created a lot of chances,” Van Gaal said. “We didn’t score, though, and that’s our problem. When we scored, there was not a problem any more. We scored two beautiful goals. I am very happy for the players because they had to play under big pressure and now we have won. We are still near the top of the league and the gap is less. So that’s football. That’s a season. A season takes eight months or something like that and not one month. I hope this is a fantastic starting point for us in the New Year and we can continue against Sheffield United.”

After struggling to score goals — just three in their previous six PL games — they looked sharper in the final third as they game wore on and managed to score twice in the same PL game for the first time since they last won in the PL on Nov. 21 away at Watford, also by a 2-1 scoreline. Rooney looked especially sharp as his stunning back heel flick ended his 553 minute goal drought in all competitions for United and was his 188th PL goal which moves him up to second on the all-time goalscorers list.

With the much-needed three points they move up to fifth place and are in touch with the top four. So, despite all of the recent struggles and calls for LVG to be fired, a crisis seems to have been averted. For now.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings

United’s marauding right wing back, Ashley Young, whipped in the cross for Martial’s opener and believes the Red Devils were rewarded for their attacking intent.

“I think today we showed the way we want to attack teams,” Young said. “A lot of teams come here to defend. We want to be on the front foot and play the way we want to.”

Let’s see if they can continue to play how they want to to and if this victory proves to be a turning point in United’s season or if it’s another dawn of false hope.

The latter have been plentiful during LVG’s 18-months in charge.