United face the League Two side on Friday night and can expect a different atmosphere and certainly a different type to what they’re used to in the Premier League.
Rumours suggested the former Barcelona man would be entrusted, where Anders Lindegaard wasn’t, to start a match against lower league opposition, meaning David de Gea would sit out for the first time this season.
But Van Gaal quashed those suggestions when speaking to MUTV and further explained why Friday might not be a suitable time to be make heavy changes at the back.
“They play with high balls and have five or six players above 1.90m, so it is difficult for us to defend. That is why you have to prepare yourself very well,” said the manager.
Whilst Valdes is incredibly experienced at 33, he won’t have ever experienced a game like this one back in his homeland. As good as David de Gea‘s reaction saves were back when he joined United in 2011, the ‘keeper struggled to adapt against teams who played high balls into the box.
Against sides like Stoke City and West Ham, De Gea looked like a fish out of water as teams battered him and forced him into mistakes and with so many tall players, Cambridge are likely to focus on sending high balls into United’s box as their main attacking threat.
Given that Valdes hasn’t played a competitive game since March and is at a new club in a new country, maybe a physical battle against Cambridge probably isn’t the right way to ease him in.
Of course, the reality is that Valdes is unlikely to get the nod ahead of De Gea in the Premier League any time soon but maybe Van Gaal sees him playing as more a necessity than anything else.