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'Important session'

First practice ground match under Van Gaal

Sometimes, there’s nothing for it but to improvise. When Thursday afternoon’s training session had to be curtailed after just half an hour due to a thunderstorm, Louis van Gaal cancelled the day off he had originally awarded his men for Friday, and rescheduled the abandoned session for the morning.

“It was an important session which the coach wanted to hold whatever it took,” Andreas Görlitz explained afterwards. “If it had been only a matter of strength or speed training, I’m sure he’d have let it go. But it was the first time we’d played in formation, trying out a system, so it’s understandable he wanted it repeated.”

After three sessions focused on fitness and rapid passing interchanges, Van Gaal’s troops practised under something approaching competitive conditions for the first time on Friday. The exercise was an eleven-a-side match using the whole field of play, with three periods of 15 minutes each. Both teams deployed the same system, with a back four, a midfield diamond, and two strikers. In the breaks and at the end, Van Gaal called the players together for a brief analysis of what he had seen.