Van Gaal hails United defenders on tour
Dutchman says backline has adopted well to a new formation during an unbeaten run in America, including a 3-1 win over Real Madrid
Reuters in Ann Arbor, Michigan
Manchester United defenders have impressed new coach Louis van Gaal in their unbeaten preseason tour with the Dutchman lauding the backline for adapting well to the new formation he has introduced since arriving at the club last month.
United defeated European champions Real Madrid 3-1 in the International Champions Cup match to advance to tonight's final of the eight-team tournament against Liverpool in Miami.
The 20-times English champions have produced encouraging displays in the 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.
"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 in the media conference after the match.
"The greatest impact with this new system is on the backline. 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 109,318 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 in the box by Michael Keane.
Van Gaal said Keane and fellow defender Tyler Blackett would grow better with experience.
"You saw them play today 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 today 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 would 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 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 [Real manager] Carlo [Anceotti] said he would. But we won and deserved to win."
Ancelotti said he was 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.
Real also had reverses to Italian Serie A clubs AS Roma and Inter Milan on the preseason tour.
"We are not happy with the defeat," Ancelotti said.
"But I am sure we are going to play with a different spirit in the European Super Cup," added the Italian, who led Real to the 2014 Champions League title in his debut season.
"These are preparation matches. We didn't do things well but everything will change next week."
There was at least some good news for Real as Portugal forward and World Player of the Year Ronaldo, who is recovering from a knee injury, came on with around 20 minutes left to surprise the crowd.
Ancelotti, who had said before the game 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.