Speaking after Man United’s 2-0 defeat to PSG, Van Gaal confirmed that three of the back four who started against the French champions would begin the game against Spurs.
The only place in United’s back four that is up for grabs is the right centre-back position for which the two candidates are Chris Smalling and Phil Jones. The latter played an hour against PSG and was criticised heavily for the part he played in the Parisians second goal.
Smalling, on the other hand, was United’s best defender last year and was recently named by Van Gaal as his ‘third captain.’
With no competitive fixtures scheduled between now and the opening day of the season, the manager will have to come to a decision based on what he has already seen. Jones may have a the upper hand, given he played more minutes during pre-season.
Daley Blind‘s inclusion in the side could come as a surprise to many. The Dutchman was deployed mainly at left-back and central midfield last year and has looked shaky during the International Champions Cup.
The central defensive role is new to the 25-year-old and his performances have not been reassuring. Blind struggled hugely against Club America and PSG but is helped by the fact that Van Gaal prefers a left-footer in the left centre-back spot.
The full-backs, contrary to Blind, have been impressive on tour. Both Darmian and Shaw have done enough over the past four games to justify their starting positions and it is good to see Van Gaal rewarding their hard work.
This comes despite the manager claiming that Antonio Valencia was his number one right-back. Darmian was particularly impressive against PSG and this may have helped Van Gaal’s decision.
With the start of the season just ten days away, Van Gaal will want to solidify his back four as soon as possible. Whether it is Smalling or Jones who starts against Spurs, the manager will need the defence to do far better than it did in Chicago against PSG.