Paul Scholes: Three at the back isn’t working – but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United

It is never easy to make a dramatic change in a short space of time

Almost 19 years ago I was part of the Manchester United team that failed to overturn a three-goal deficit in the second round of the League Cup against York City.

Read more: Paul Scholes on Man City
United turn focus from Vidal to Carvalho

We won 3-1 at Bootham Crescent in the second leg but it was not enough and the experience of being eliminated by a team two divisions below us was terrible.

I can only imagine that the United players, as well as Louis van Gaal and his staff, will have felt devastated Wednesday morning as they sifted through that 4-0 League Cup defeat to MK Dons. I don’t care about the mitigating factor that the United team included some young, inexperienced players. The team was good enough to win that cup tie.

The strange thing was that United did put a shift in. I never thought the players gave up. They were just not good enough on the night. Benik Afobe doesn't see what the big deal is after adding his second and the Dons' fourth to the tally Benik Afobe scores during MK Dons' shock 4-0 win over United

In the end, United managed their first shot on target on 72 minutes. Having Javier Hernandez and Danny Welbeck in the team should have guaranteed them some goals. Adnan Januzaj does not look fit enough to me. It was the first game of the season for Anderson and Nick Powell. But even so, there should have been enough quality.

Read more: Is Van Gaal the man to dig United out?
Van Gaal 'not shocked' by defeat
Is Van Gaal beginning to sound like Moyes?

The biggest problem of all for United? Three men at the back doesn’t seem to be working for them yet. At the moment United look like they are going to concede goals too often. It was the same at Sunderland on Sunday. There were mistakes. They were letting Sunderland run through them. There was a worrying absence of tackles being made.

Video: Van Gaal reacts to MK Dons defeat

I understand that Van Gaal is trying to make a lot of changes very quickly but the problem is the players don’t seem to have adapted comfortably to 3-5-2 yet.

 

It is never easy to make a dramatic tactical change in a short space of time when you are dealing with players who have been drilled to play with a flat back four for many years. This doesn’t mean Van Gaal’s preference for 3-5-2 is wrong – change isn’t necessarily a bad thing at all and players have a responsibility to trust and believe in their manager’s methods.

Jonny Evans was at fault for the first goal The players have struggled to adapt to the 3-5-2 formation

But it does take time, patience and perseverance before the message sinks in and players feel comfortable and confident about the new system.

Van Gaal says it will take three months for the players to adapt to the way that he wants things done. I hope it will be the case, because at the moment it looks like it could take a lot longer. There won’t be easy quick-fix solutions but I’m hopeful such an experienced and world-class manager is capable of rebuilding and reshaping this United team.

Of course, the expectation now on Angel Di Maria becomes ever greater. He is what United need. He is the kind of player who will get fans at Old Trafford excited and out of their seats. He can beat a man and create a chance. Like a lot of United fans I don’t care how much was paid for him – although I think £59.7m is too much. The important thing for the club is that they have signed him. I just hope there are more players to come.

Read more: Kagawa and Hernandez could be used to get Vidal
Di Maria never wanted to leave Real Madrid
How the internet reacted to MK Dons humiliation

I don’t think Di Maria is going to play as a wing-back in a 3-5-2 system. I could see him playing wide in a 4-4-2 or a 4-4-1-1 formation. But if Van Gaal is sticking with 3-5-2 I could see Di Maria playing off Robin van Persie and Rooney as a third striker. I could also see him as a No 10 in the Juan Mata role. He could also play in the same side as Mata. Mata is a great player but he doesn’t have any pace, and needs to be played with others who do. Angel Di Maria poses with Louis van Gaal after signing for Manchester United The expectation on £59.7m signing Angel Di Maria becomes even greater

For the amount of money being paid for Di Maria I would ideally want an attacking player who can score 20 to 25 goals a season. His record says he will not get that many, but that he will create a lot. I hope Di Maria’s arrival does not mean that Welbeck leaves. Danny has a lot to offer, not least the raw pace that is lacking in United at times. His problem has always been that he has not scored enough goals.

I would have liked to see him given a run in the team of 10 to 15 games. It is going to be hard for him to get that now, with so many players ahead of him, but he is certainly  capable of 15 to 20 goals a season. Either way, it will take Van Gaal time to get this team right. I imagine there will be more difficult days for United fans before he does.

Suggested Topics
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Keith Fraser says we should give Isis sympathises free flights to join Isis (AFP)
news
Life and Style
A picture taken on February 11, 2014 at people walking at sunrise on the Trocadero Esplanade, also known as the Parvis des droits de l'homme (Parvis of Human Rights), in front of the Eiffel Tower in Paris.
techGoogle celebrates Paris's iconic landmark, which opened to the public 126 years ago today
News
Cleopatra the tortoise suffers from a painful disease that causes her shell to disintegrate; her new prosthetic one has been custom-made for her using 3D printing technology
newsCleopatra had been suffering from 'pyramiding'
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Coachella and Lollapalooza festivals have both listed the selfie stick devices as “prohibited items”
music
Sport
Nigel Owens was targeted on Twitter because of his sexuality during the Six Nations finale between England and France earlier this month
rugbyReferee Nigel Owens on coming out, and homophobic Twitter abuse
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
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

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor