Manchester United boss Louis van Gaal has explained that he played a 4-3-3 formation against West Ham United in the FA Cup on Wednesday to counter the Hammers’ physicality.
Van Gaal has generally used a 4-2-3-1 formation this season but he played a three-man midfield at Upton Park as goals from Marcus Rashford and Marouane Fellaini saw Man United progress to the semi-finals of the Cup.
The tweak in system helped United establish control of the game early on and van Gaal was “satisfied” with the way his side adapted.
“West Ham is a more physical game and also in height,” he said.
“I have to, in every match, take into account the height of my players because every set play you have seen is a danger and that’s why I chose this line-up. But, of course, also because of the qualities of the players and if they can cope with the midfield of West Ham United.
“I think we have pressed always very high again, but it is of course a risk because in the first half (Enner) Valencia playing was a surprise for me, he is very fast and when you press high you need to play more compact and more from your goal.
“But we did it so I was very satisfied at half-time because we controlled the game and had better chances, and there was the only the chance of Valencia I think.”
United have laboured at times with two holding midfielders this term and the improved performance against West Ham may give van Gaal food for thought.
Marouane Fellaini would certainly welcome the change as the Belgian revelled in being allowed more freedom to get forward at Upton Park.