London - It was after the third follow-up question on the possible failings of Holland’s new formation that Louis van Gaal finally lost patience.
“I’ve been assigned to win,” he snapped at his inquisitor. “I need to get the best out of this team. That and nothing else. I make my own decisions on what formation I play. No director says how I play. I choose a team and a system that I think has the best chance of success.” Holland won their penultimate World Cup warm-up game, beating Ghana 1-0.
Van Gaal’s system stopped Ghana from creating a single chance. Captain Robin van Persie scored after five minutes and they could have been out of sight by half-time had Arjen Robben taken simple chances. Van Gaal used wing-backs Daley Blind of Ajax and Daryl Janmaat of Feyenoord in a 5-3-2 formation that quickly shifted to a 3-4-3 on the attack.
Van Gaal intends to deploy this flexible formation against Spain on June 13 and hinted that it could make an appearance when he takes over at Manchester United next season. Teenager Luke Shaw - expected to join from Southampton for £27m - will get forward down the left wing as will Rafael on the right.
The system is anchored by solid centre-backs and a ball-playing central midfielder, so Van Gaal will focus his spending on these areas. With considerable funds, United are interested in Borussia Dortmund’s Mats Hummels and Miranda of Atletico Madrid to strengthen central defence, while Holland international Kevin Strootman of Roma would be a strong candidate for the midfield role.
Barcelona’s Cesc Fabregas would be another option behind a dangerous front three of Van Persie, Wayne Rooney and Juan Mata.