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Gary Neville - Van Gaal has got it right at last

SoccerBy Kevin Palmer
Marouane Fellaini finally emerging as a star for United
Marouane Fellaini finally emerging as a star for United

Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal has finally found a formation that will fire the club back into the Champions League, according to former United defender Gary Neville.

The Sky Sports pundit has been critical of Van Gaal in his first season at Old Trafford, but he believes the 4-3-3 formation he used in Sunday's 3-0 win against Tottenham can provide the key to a top four finish.

"When he was appointed, this is the system everyone thought he would play, but in pre-season he came out of the World Cup playing three at the back with Holland and took that into United," said Neville.  

"He played it in every single pre-season game, but then ditched it after a couple of games. Then they played a diamond and today it was 4-3-3. That's probably what everyone expected.

"I don't think he'll be changing that too quickly because that was head and shoulders Manchester United's best performance of the season. The tempo in the play today was far better than it has been at any point. 

"Everyone was positive and they were looking further forward quicker. It wasn't long balls, it was good passes forward. Even the centre-backs were stepping out at times and playing good passes.

"They have been slow at times playing out from the back and we didn't see a lot of that against Spurs at all. It was good."

Neville suggested the game against Tottenham was crucial to United's season as they looked to bounce back from their FA Cup quarter-final defeat against Arsenal, as he says any talk of a title push should not be banished.

"Consolidating fourth place should be the target," he added.

"Today was a must-win. Lose today and you are looking at the forthcoming fixtures in a daunting way. Looking at the fixtures now, they can be confident when they go to Anfield next week.

"They've got big games coming up with Chelsea, City and even Everton away. They've got the right start.

"If they'd lost today or dropped points in a poor performance, it would have been difficult. I think they can be a lot more optimistic."