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Mata models retro United kit

Toe Poke

Louis van Gaal eyes wing-backs

The Uruguayan joined the rest of the squad in Asia having spent some extra time away from football following the World Cup.

Louis van Gaal has hinted that he will need to sign more wing-backs for his new-look Manchester United squad.

The Dutchman has introduced the 3-4-1-2 system he also played with Netherlands at the World Cup during United's preseason fixtures on their U.S. tour.

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And though United have paid 27 million pounds for Luke Shaw, experienced alternatives as left wing-backs after both Patrice Evra and Alexander Buttner have been sold, with the untried Reece James featuring in the matches against LA Galaxy and Roma.

Right-back Rafael da Silva, who has returned to England from the World Cup with a groin injury, and winger Antonio Valencia have been used on the other flank while Ashley Young had to be pressed into emergency service as a right wing-back in the second half against Roma.

And Van Gaal suggested that even if he reverts to the 4-3-3 formation he has used for much of his managerial career, he still needs more options on the flanks.

"I don't buy players for [the sake of] buying players," he told Sky Sports. "I buy players to improve my selection. First I have to see what we need in all the positions from the system we shall play. When we play 4-3-3 I shall use more or less the same players but 4-3-3 I need more specialists on the wings and more attackers."

Van Gaal explained the change of shape as a response to the players at his disposal after fielding Juan Mata behind two strikers in United's first two friendlies.

He added: "With this system I at least two strikers can play and at least the No. 10 can play and also the two [central] midfielders so the specialists are the wing-backs.

"I am more in favour of a 4-3-3 formation that also Sir Alex [Ferguson] has played but I think with the selection now, I have to choose this system."

Van Gaal has been linked with Ajax's Daley Blind, who operated as a left wing-back in the Holland team he led to third place in this summer's World Cup.

Defender Chris Smalling revealed he has enjoyed Van Gaal's new formation, saying at a news conference in Washington: "If anything I like this more than the traditional 4-4-2 because it gives us more freedom to go in and be aggressive."


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