Manchester United

Manchester United

Premier League • England

Tyrell Malacia reveals disagreement with Louis van Gaal’s Netherlands experiment

Vincent Jansson Tyrell Malacia Netherlands September 2022

Manchester United new boy Tyrell Malacia has spoken about his disagreement with national team boss Louis van Gaal after being told he would be playing at centre-back for the Netherlands.

Malacia has slotted in seamlessly to United’s back four since arriving from Feyenoord in a £14.7m deal at the start of July. The 23-year-old has started in the last four Premier League games which has coincided with four consecutive victories.

Malacia already looks to have nailed down the left-back berth under Erik ten Hag after impressing on the left of defence in the Eredivisie last season. So it was a surprise to everyone, including the player, when he arrived as second-half sub at centre-back on Sunday night.

Van Gaal decided to replace Nathan Ake with Malacia at half-time in the 1-0 win over Belgium. Many expected Daley Blind to move into the middle to partner Virgil van Dijk with the United man slotting in at left-back.

Blind has played in the heart of defence on numerous occasions. But Van Gaal instead wanted Malacia to play at centre-back and he did exactly that helping Van Gaal’s men keep a clean sheet in a 1-0 win.

Afterwards Malacia revealed that he was not entirely comfortable at centre-back. And he was caught out of position on a number of occasions. He has also said he did not agree with Van Gaal, who has one eye on the World Cup in November and December.

Malacia told Dutch outlet De Telegraaf: “I went two or three times too much forward. That is not possible in this position as quickly. But I was corrected by others.

“I didn’t agree with it at the time, yes. That’s right. After the game we talked about that moment for a while and then it was over.

“I’m comfortable with United at the moment. The national coach thinks that I should also be able to play in the centre of the defence. But I feel best on the left.”

Malacia moved to stop De Bruyne

Van Gaal’s next match will be at the Qatar World Cup. And it remains to be seen whether Malacia will be used alongside Van Dijk. But the former United boss has explained his thinking and said he wanted to stop Belgium star Kevin de Bruyne.

Van Gaal told ESPN and NOS: “I have to look at other players who can play there. And I wanted to see what Malacia could do, so Ake was substituted.

“I put him on the left of the central defence because [Kevin] De Bruyne played a lot on that side. It’s better to have a pitbull like that instead of someone like Blind who tries to solve it tactically.

“De Bruyne has more acceleration than Blind as well so I put Malacia there. I had already discussed this with him the day before yesterday, that he could play as a left centre-back.”

At least at club level it seems as though Malacia and Ten Hag are in agreement that he is settled at left-back. And he is keeping England’s Luke Shaw out of the line-up.