Possession based training is designed to make players more comfortable with the ball at their feet which, in turn, allows them to play a more natural passing game that has become synonymous with modern football but certainly wasn’t synonymous with United last year.
David Moyes’ training methods diverted away from ball based work and concentrated more on the fitness of players but it’s clearly not something that the United squad will be doing under Van Gaal.
“The first couple of weeks here have been great,” Herrera said earlier this week.
“Training has been good, similar to at Athletic Bilbao, in that we train a lot with the ball.
“The coaches want us to have the ball and keep possession, which is great for the players.”
Under Moyes, United’s football was very two dimensional and the training methods may well have contributed to that, so it’s great to hear Van Gaal’s philosophy is based around something entirely different.
With the likes of Herrera, Mata, Kagawa and Januzaj, having possession plays to the strengths of the squad and it sounds like Van Gaal is going to bring a far more fluid style of football to Old Trafford.
“What they bring is knowledge, and modern knowledge,” Van Gaal said about his coaching staff..
“I think it’s an obligation of us to share this knowledge, and that has been asked of us by [executive vice-chairman] Ed Woodward.
“It’s difficult because not everybody is here, the players are coming in at different times, and therefore they are not well prepared to play.
“So, this is also a difficult year after a World Cup, we have to give training sessions more individually because you cannot over-train players.”
United haven’t played a game yet under Van Gaal but we’re hearing all the right things like possession based training, individual training programs and a real attention to detail, so there’s a palpable buzz of excitement ahead of our first game against LA Galaxy where we’ll see these philosophies in practice.