I have been largely critical of Louis Van Gaal pretty much since his reign began at Old Trafford, and other than a few inspired performances last season against Liverpool, City and Spurs, I believe the criticism has been fully justified.
He has been given an amazing amount of money – he has spent 335m euros (£240m) on new players since taking charge, more than any other club in Europe during the same period (although City are higher in terms of net transfer spend).
Van Gaal has also sold numerous players, a number of whom shouldn’t have been let go unless the replacements were going to be major upgrades.
Last season, LvG achieved the club’s target – getting back into the Champions League. He won no silverware and delivered mundane football, but he did get that top 4 finish which was crucial for the club. We all hoped we would kick on from there, add some flair, pace and quality, and start challenging on all fronts this season playing a style of football in keeping with Manchester United’s traditions.
In reality, the style of play remains dreary, we’re out of the Capital One Cup, we’re out of the Champions League, and whilst we’re sitting in 4th place in the league, I don’t think any true fan realistically expects to see us parading that trophy come May.
No club can hope to compete on all four fronts without four good strikers, yet United are relying on a single 20-year-old whose name none of us knew 4 months ago. That’s nothing short of insanity.
LvG sold Chicharito for almost nothing. Whilst at United, he averaged a goal every 140 minutes, and has scored 10 in his last 11 games for Leverkusen, including one this week against Barca. He has also been named Bundesliga player of the month for November. I am convinced that, had we kept him, some of those boring 0-0 draws would have ended as wins for us, both in the Premier League and the Champions League.
Meanwhile, Van Gaal gave James Wilson 8 minutes of game time this season before sending him to Brighton on loan, where he scored a great goal last weekend to remind us what we’re missing.
Look at our bench – we don’t have a single striker on it. It’s bewildering at best; how can the fans or the players possibly look past ludicrous anomalies like this and embrace the manager’s philosophy?
I was massively critical of Moyes, and probably would have flown the plane carrying that banner myself if I had the chance, but I am absolutely not convinced that Van Gaal is any better for United. He definitely has a lot more confidence in himself than Moyes appeared to have whilst at the club, and is not intimidated by the job, but I believe his arrogance has impaired his ability to tackle the task at hand, whilst, as discussed, his transfer dealings have been pretty abysmal.
Having said that, I question whether players came to us with more ability than they are showing. Does LvG get the worst out of players rather than what we would expect? I don’t think Memphis was a bad player, but he’s been less than average since joining us. Darmian started well but is now looking very ordinary. Di Maria was unquestionably a world class talent, and is again at PSG, but at United he just wasn’t the same player, and I am seeing similarities with Martial this season.
I could go on and on right now about what seems to be wrong at United, but I have to wonder where we’d be today if Moyes had been replaced by any of Guardiola, Simeone, Ancelotti, Klopp, Mourinho or Pochettino. My belief is that we would be in last 16 as group winners, and most likely sitting top of the Premier League as favourites to win it in May.
Van Gaal seems to have lost the fans, or at least the vast majority, and rumours of dressing room unrest are only likely to grow in volume. Personally, I wouldn’t be sorry to see the plane make another pass over Old Trafford to pressure the board to get rid. He is not the right man for Manchester United, and I just hope that whatever happens between now and the end of the season, he is gone.
What do you think the club should do?