Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

Players suspect he was having tapes sent to Brazil whilst still in charge of the Netherlands and that the HD footage will be used to view close-ups of their faces, assessing when they are fatigued

Detroit

Jonny Evans thought he knew all about scrutiny after eight years in the white heat of Manchester United but the last two weeks have taken it to another level. Louis van Gaal’s relentless quest to analyse which of his players will belong to the club’s future have seen him install video surveillance equipment at the training facilities where the club have worked across the United States. The scrutiny of it has been painstaking.

“I think it’s a lot more detailed at the training ground,” says Evans, of the battery of camera equipment which also awaits the players back home at Carrington. “They have spent thousands on it and a few of the lads have seen HD cameras around the pitch.” He is right. Van Gaal has ordered an investment of £500,000 on this technology above the practice pitches in Manchester. The suspicion among United’s players is that he was having footage sent to him even when he was at the World Cup with the Netherlands, allowing him to begin his assessments while the players worked with Ryan Giggs and Albert Stuivenberg, the new assistant coach. This scrutiny of training sessions is something new to British football.

Read more: Louis van Gaal interview
Fellaini and Kagawa could head United exodus
All you need to know about Vidal

The tour of the US has provided a sense of the re-shaped priorities. Game discipline is everything to Van Gaal – “how to play the ball on time. Be in space on time. The way you pass the ball to a teammate in relation to an opponent. Thinking collectively during possession and when losing the ball,” as he once described it. This is the precision he has been demanding – not least of Evans, one of the three-man central defence who is being asked to play a high line, defending in the opposition territory at times, and yet be aware of covering for others when the moment demands.

Jonny Evans and Wayne Rooney train together on pre-season tour Jonny Evans and Wayne Rooney train together on pre-season tour  

“He is saying ‘you should be five yards to the right,’” Evans relates. “We are able to see things that are happening live on the pitch. We went through a video last night and I was ten yards out! There are things you are doing on the pitch, and the whole team will be feeling the same, and you are thinking ‘am I in the right position?’ Then he will show you in the video and you will know.”  It was certainly never like this with Sir Alex Ferguson. “The case before was that as long as we got the results everything was fine,” Evans says. David Moyes ventured into video analysis territory but not to this extent.

Read more: Zaha takes chance to impress Van Gaal
Hummels, Vermaelen and Blind on United radar
Hernandez set to leave

The feeling among the players is that Van Gaal, who had similar surveillance gear erected at Sabener Strasse, Bayern Munich's training ground, will be looking to use the HD footage to view close-ups of their faces, assessing when they are fatigued. But their concentration levels are just as likely to be scrutinised. Van Gaal perceives concentration during a 60-minute training session as a prerequisite and any player who loses focus in that hour as a potential weak link, whose mind could wander during a game. “When I see that someone loses his concentration I explode,” he once said. "They know that. And they never get angry over that. I think that they kind-of like it that I have such a primal response. They realise I need it.” Endurance training has never been important to him.

 

Evans appears to have the qualities that Van Gaal demands. It is understood that he is the centre-half the Dutchman is most impressed with, because he views him as a player more comfortable than Phil Jones or Chris Smalling in bringing the ball out of defence and passing. Van Gaal, who admitted on Tuesday night that he was looking for more defenders, is desperate to sign a left-footed centre-back as he does not want three right-footed operators across the back three. That is why Arsenal captain Thomas Vermalen fits the bill. He is understood to covet a back-line, right to left, of Evans, Borussia Dortmund’s Mats Hummels and Vermaelen.

Thomas Vermaelen Thomas Vermaelen  

Van Gaal also told the British national press this week that it may be three months before the new-look 3-4-1-2 United formation clicks and the players have received that message. “He said the same to us: ‘You will find it hard,’"Evans relates. “Not so much the tactics and results but find it hard mentally because he is demanding and he wants us all to push ourselves to the limit. That is what it feels like. We are all going to bed and sleeping well, anyway.” Van Gaal has incidentally also installed sleep pods at Carrington, so players can achieve maximum rest before or after sessions. There are also now floodlights on the main practice pitch, enabling the squad to train in the evenings.

Evans agrees that it would be regrettable if the players began overthinking what they are doing. “You don’t want to lose your instinct and I think that is the case with a lot of footballers. You see especially attacking players with flair, you don’t want to take away their natural ability to score goals. You look at Wayne Rooney [last Saturday against AS Roma]. He bent one in to the top corner and scored a fantastic goal. The question is ‘do you lose that sort of thing by thinking too much? But I don’t think you do. I don’t think the manager thinks you can think enough.”

Rooney in action Rooney in action  

Van Gaal actually said on Monday that he wants the players to “know why they do something” rather than play “intuitively.” But it is something emotional, rather than cerebral, which tells this group that they have reputations to rebuild. “It was a hard time to be a Manchester United player [last year] because..  you don’t want to be that player or part of that team that didn’t qualify for the Champions League,” Evans reflects. “But it happened. People are now saying Manchester United can’t win the league. That is a big motivation to us.”

Suggested Topics
News
Russia Today’s new UK channel began broadcasting yesterday. Discussions so far have included why Britons see Russia as ‘the bad guy’
news

New UK station Russia Today gives a very bizarre view of Britain

Voices
Left: An illustration of the original Jim Crowe, played by TD Rice Right: A Couple dressed as Ray and Janay Rice
voices

By performing as African Americans or Indians, white people get to play act a kind of 'imaginary liberation', writes Michael Mark Cohen

News
John Moore inspired this Coca Cola Christmas advert
people

News
people

Top Gear presenter is no stranger to foot-in-mouth controversy

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

Commons debate highlights growing cross-party consensus on softening UK drugs legislation, unchanged for 43 years
The camera is turned on tabloid editors in Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter'

Gotcha! The camera is turned on tabloid editors

Hugh Grant says Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter' documentary will highlight issues raised by Leveson
Fall of the Berlin Wall: It was thanks to Mikhail Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell

Fall of the Berlin Wall

It was thanks to Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell
Halloween 2014: What makes Ouija boards, demon dolls, and evil clowns so frightening?

What makes ouija boards and demon dolls scary?

Ouija boards, demon dolls, evil children and clowns are all classic tropes of horror, and this year’s Halloween releases feature them all. What makes them so frightening, decade after decade?
A safari in modern Britain: Rose Rouse reveals how her four-year tour of Harlesden taught her as much about the UK as it did about NW10

Rose Rouse's safari in modern Britain

Rouse decided to walk and talk with as many different people as possible in her neighbourhood of Harlesden and her experiences have been published in a new book
Welcome to my world of no smell and odd tastes: How a bike accident left one woman living with unwanted food mash-ups

'My world of no smell and odd tastes'

A head injury from a bicycle accident had the surprising effect of robbing Nell Frizzell of two of her senses

Matt Parker is proud of his square roots

The "stand-up mathematician" is using comedy nights to preach maths to big audiences
Paul Scholes column: Beating Manchester City is vital part of life at Manchester United. This is first major test for Luke Shaw, Angel Di Maria and Radamel Falcao – it’s not a game to lose

Paul Scholes column

Beating City is vital part of life at United. This is first major test for Shaw, Di Maria and Falcao – it’s not a game to lose
Frank Warren: Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing

Frank Warren column

Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing
Adrian Heath interview: Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room

Adrian Heath's American dream...

Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room
Simon Hart: Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manuel Pellegrini’s side are too good to fail and derby allows them to start again, says Simon Hart
Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

A Syrian general speaks

A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities
‘A bit of a shock...’ Cambridge economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

‘A bit of a shock...’ Economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

Guy Scott's predecessor, Michael Sata, died in a London hospital this week after a lengthy illness
Fall of the Berlin Wall: History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War

Fall of the Berlin Wall

History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War
How to turn your mobile phone into easy money

Turn your mobile phone into easy money

There are 90 million unused mobiles in the UK, which would be worth £7bn if we cashed them in, says David Crookes