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New United formation

Monday, July 28, 2014

LONDON - Manchester United playmaker Juan Mata yesterday gave his seal of approval to the tactical system introduced by new manager Louis van Gaal.

Having set United out in a 3-4-1-2 formation for their opening pre-season friendly against the Los Angeles Galaxy on Thursday, with Mata playing in support of the two strikers, Van Gaal saw his new charges stroll to a 7-0 win.

The 62-year-old coach used a similar formation with the Netherlands at the World Cup, where he guided his country to a third-place finish, and Mata believes it could bring out the best in him.

"If I play behind the two strikers, it's a good position," the Spanish international told BBC Sport.

"I can look for the ball, I can try to assist or score, so I will try my best. I will try to score as much as I can and try to help the team from that position.

"If I have to play on the wing, I will try my best as well, but I feel comfortable in this role."

Only a handful of sides deployed a three-man defence in the English Premier League last season, and Mata feels it could give United an edge.

"It can be very dangerous for the opponent," he said. "It is difficult for them to play against us in this formation."

Van Gaal has made a strong impression since succeeding the sacked David Moyes, chiding his players during public training sessions and openly criticising the club's heavy pre-season schedule.

Mata revealed the Dutchman was also making his presence felt in the changing room by forcing all players to communicate only in English.

"We only speak in English," said the former Chelsea player. "He says we have to speak in English.

"He is very good, on and off the pitch. He is a good man and a great manager."

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