|Javier Hernandez (right) celebrates his goal with Shinji Kagawa, in Ann Arbor, on Saturday. (Getty Images)
Michigan: Manchester United defenders have impressed new coach Louis van Gaal in their unbeaten pre-season tour with the Dutchman lauding the defence for adapting well to the new formation he has introduced since his arrival last month.
United defeated European champions Real Madrid 3-1 in the International Champions Cup match on Saturday to advance to Monday’s final of the eight-team tournament against Liverpool in Miami.
The 20-time English champions have produced encouraging displays in the United States, also beating Roma and Inter Milan, as they prepare for the start of the season under the 62-year-old coach. United have played their tour matches with three centre-backs and it will probably be the former Netherlands coach’s preferred formation this season.
“We deserved to win this game… It’s amazing that they have picked up a new system like that because it’s not new for (Juan) Mata, for example — he plays in his position. Neither for (Wayne) Rooney, (Danny) Welbeck nor the two midfielders,” Van Gaal said at the post-match press conference.
“The greatest impact with this new system is on the back line. But we conceded only one chance in the first half and two in the second.”
Two first-half goals from Ashley Young and an 80th minute strike from substitute Javier Hernandez ensured United’s victory in front of 1,09,318 people, the largest crowd to watch a soccer match in the United States.
Real’s only goal came in the 27th minute when Gareth Bale converted from the spot after he was fouled inside the box by Michael Keane.
Van Gaal said Keane and fellow defender Tyler Blackett would grow better with experience. “You saw them play and they can do the job but not for a lot of matches… They can do it for one match.
“Maybe when you give them more matches, their experience shall increase. But in this game, the penalty was not so smart. He (Keane) has to learn from these errors. It’s the same for Tyler. He can also play at this level, but can he play match after match? That is the question and I cannot answer that at the moment.”
Van Gaal said the victory will boost the confidence of the team, which finished a lowly seventh in the league last season and also missed out on qualification for the European tournaments under the then coach David Moyes.
“It’s a very good result for us and it gives confidence to the players. I changed players in the second half but in spite of that, we scored again,” he said.
“This wasn’t a friendly… I had the feeling that Real Madrid didn’t want to lose, which is why (Cristiano) Ronaldo came on earlier than Carlo said he would. But we won and deserved to win.”
On the other hand, Real coach Ancelotti is not concerned by his side’s three friendly defeats in the United States and is confident his players will be in top form for the European Super Cup against Sevilla on August 12.
“We are not happy with the defeat,” Ancelotti remarked. “But I am sure we are going to play with a different spirit in the European Super Cup,” added the Italian. “These are preparation matches. We didn’t do things well, but everything will change next week.”
Ancelotti, who had said before the game that Ronaldo would be unable to participate, predicted that once Real’s top scorer was back to full fitness and new signings James Rodriguez and Toni Kroos had joined up with the squad, the team would be ready for the new season.
“We can’t be ready at this point because some players only started training a week ago and they are not in optimal condition,” Ancelotti said. “It’s normal to have a day like this one as the team is not used to playing without Cristiano or the other players. With the players who are returning, the quality of the squad will improve.”
Ronaldo will have recovered from his left-knee problem in time to feature in the Super Cup against Europa League winners Sevilla, which takes place in Cardiff, Ancelotti informed. (REUTERS)