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“This club has big ambitions. I too have big ambitions. Together I’m sure we will make history.” – Louis Van Gaal.
Just over two years later, The Dutchman has left his post as Manchester United manager a year earlier than expected due to the lack of ‘huge ambitions’ being fulfilled. There’s no doubting Louis Van Gaal underperformed in his tenure, however his rein was not fruitless. They say hindsight is a beautiful thing, so with the ink barely dry on the 65 year-old’s compensation package, let’s reflect on the good work of Louis Van Gaal that leaves United in a strong position.
It is easy to forget the circumstances in which the former Netherland’s manager took over the club. Arrival after a 7th place finish under David Moyes, Van Gaal’s minimum expectation was to get the club back into the top four, and ultimately, the champions league.
Although United had an indifferent start to the season with 2 draws and a loss, you still had a feeling things were starting to change at Old Trafford for the better. After the Moyes season, the locker room lacked belief. The ability to look around you and believe in the personnel around you was virtually gone. Van Gaal responded by purchasing Rademal Falcao, at the time, considered one of Europe’s lethal strikers, and Angel Di Maria. The club ultimately finished in 4th place.
The argument here is how does Falcao, a man who scored 4 goals, and Di Maria, who was largely out-of-form, impact the conclusion of the season. The simple fact of the matter is both players came to the club with their names associated with ‘world class’ and ‘winners’. United, for all the dour football, still ended the season in a champions league place. It is not always what a player does on the field, but off it, that generates success. In form or not, if Di Maria or Falcao are playing next to you on the field, you want to be a better player.
For all the inconsistencies, Van Gaal also performed against the bigger clubs. When United really needed to rally towards the end of the season, Manchester United came out and defeated Tottenham 3-0 in arguably their best display of the season. Later in the month, United also defeated Liverpool at Anfield to complete the double over the scousers and a resounding and entertaining 4-2 victory against Manchester City. Criticise the man all you want, victories against our two biggest rivals and making the Champions League at Liverpool’s expense earns praise.
This season has been more disappointing, but I have to praise the Dutchman’s promotion of the youth. Say what you will about Van Gaal being ‘forced’ to play the youth, but ultimately, he left his squad smaller to promote the younger players.
Van Gaal stated: “It is the way I lead this club. I don’t want a big selection because when you have a big selection it doesn’t give any chance to the young players,”
The former Bayern Munich man went into the season with 21 outfield players. To add support to the argument, the former Ajax manager did in fact send many players on loan and despite many questionable decisions, it would be difficult to prove Van Gaal did not expect injuries to occur throughout the season.
Anthony Martial is arguably the most promising teenager in world football. He has scored 17 goals this season, by far the most goals in the Manchester United squad, and whether purchased for Giggs or not, ‘LVG’ still approved the go-ahead.
The find of the season is definitely Marcus Rashford. He had a stunning debut against Midtjylland, scoring a double but he really announced himself just two days later with a stunning set of goals against Arsenal.
The circumstances that lead to Rashford’s debut, granted, may have been unavoidable. But the Dutchman did not have to continuously play the academy product. He had deployed Memphis at striker earlier in the season and had Januzaj, who he claimed could be a striker, available. He chose to stick with Rashford.
The Dutchman also brought Timothy Fosu-Mensah, who was nothing short of outstanding in his few appearances, to the club from Ajax last season who the Old Trafford faithful are happy to praise.
Finally, the maligned manager secured the club the F.A Cup, the clubs first trophy in the post Sir Alex Ferguson era and the club’s first trophy in 3 years. An extra-time goal by a Manchester United academy product in Jesse Lingard was celebrated by many as he lived out our dreams: To score a decisive goal in a big game for the club we love.
I will not defend Louis Van Gaal’s failures. On a broader scale, he failed to reach expectations, made confusing decisions in his squad management and had the club playing a very negative brand of football, returning the worst goal return in the club’s time in the premier league. He also failed to make the top 4, and he has paid for it with his job.
All-in-all, it is worth remembering Manchester City beat United to 4th place on goal difference. When you look at the squad of City, and all the faults of United, it is evident the red side of Manchester really is not in as bad a shape as the English press would have you believe.
But the enormity of his job needs to be acknowledged. Lots of players needed to be moved on and lots of promising players needed to be unearthed. Regardless of how it has come about, this part of the task has been completed. There’s no doubting that Manchester United has a squad to build on for the future.
Your Aussie Correspondent,
Larry – The United Stand.
See some of Van Gaal’s funniest moments below or by clicking here:
After Manchester United lost for the second time to Arsenal in 2006, the great Sir Alex Ferguson said: “Only true champions come out and show their worth after defeat- and I expect us to do that”.
This time, Arsenal provided the keys to the top 4 and put them in Manchester United’s hands. Win your final two games and secure Champions League football. It appears a foregone conclusion that the Red Devils would have all the motivation they need to put their best foot forward and obtain this goal.
But it didn’t happen. In case you hadn’t heard (you’ve heard), this was the final game at Upton Park, and the West Ham fans made sure the Manchester United players knew it. From the kick-off, United were off the pace. West Ham were not brilliant by any means; they simply out-enthused Manchester United. Every header, every loose-ball, West Ham were a step closer than United.
United found themselves down 1-0 after 10 minutes and failed to create any rhythm or continuity to their play through-out the first half.
The 2nd half saw United start fast, and like many other occasions, it took brilliance from 20 year-old Anthony Martial who scored a brace of goals in the space of 25 minutes, and put Manchester United in the lead. It was there. Right in this moment, Manchester United are in the top 4. 10 minutes later, it was all over.
A few set-pieces and horrible defending later, United found themselves losing 3-2. The wait for the kitchen-sink to be thrown in search for much needed goals was evident in the heart beat of every Manchester United fan – but it never came. Not a single shot. United lose the game and again, give the advantage back to Manchester City.
The situation Manchester United find themselves in sits solely on Louis Van Gaal’s shoulders. Granted, players performed horribly; but it is the manager’s responsibility to prepare his team to perform to the best of their potential.
Marcus Rojo has been out of form for the best part of a month, yet fails to get dropped. United needed a goal, so the Dutchman brings on Adnan Januzaj who has had an appalling season. These are the moments where you have to question why Danny Welbeck, Chichartio and Robin Van Persie have been allowed to leave the club when the bench had no strikers available.
United were only in this fortuitous position due to Manchester City’s inconsistent form since the announcement of Pep Guardiola’s imminent arrival. In 2 seasons, Louis Van Gaal has diminished everything that Sir Alex Ferguson and Sir Matt Busby took years to build.
After being handed the keys, Louis Van Gaal handed them right back to City without a fight. One level of praise towards the much-maligned manager is the signing of Anthony Martial; but the fact that United’s go-to man is a 20 year old in his first season at the club, says everything this wrong with the current state of the squad.
All season, United legends, pundits and fans have criticised the manner of which the Red Devils play their football, but it never changes. Louis Van Gaal was a great manager, but his inability to adapt to modern football will be his downfall and should cost him his job.
Thank you for bringing through some promising players, but it is time to go. The club is a rabble; creative players have lost their confidence to express themselves; new signings have been misused and as a result, affected and most importantly, the club has lost their identity.
Good bye, Louis. Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.
Your Aussie Correspondent,
“I started a game in a position, and then the next one I would be in another.”
“I scored goals playing in one position, and then suddenly the next game I was picked to play in a different position.”
“It’s more that they didn’t let me settle properly than I couldn’t settle. I left a team that was out of the European competition and far away from being champions of the Premier League. I don’t think it was my fault or the fault of my teammates.”
The Argentine then added that he left the club “not only to be happy, but to win things.”
In his weekly press conference, Louis Van Gaal retaliated in a manner similar to that when he verbally attacked Paul Scholes for criticising him and his team.
“I have never seen players who look at themselves, who look to the way they have performed here, and that is always the fault of the manager.”
“So he is one of the players who are in the row of players who have no self-criticism. Unfortunately, it is also my life as a manager. It is always like that.”
The aftermath on social media was pretty critical towards Di Maria. I, however, decided to mull his comments over. Was he, after all, so wrong in what he said? He was played out of position. During his time at Manchester United, he operated as a winger, an attacking midfielder, a number 10, a playmaker and a striker.
His form at United was erratic, of that there can be no mistake. His first couple of months were electric, as he was played in his favoured position, and he thrived. He will remembered for his breathtaking goal against Leicester City, probably more so than the fact Leicester actually won the game 5-3. As the season progressed, injuries and break-ins caused his form to suffer, but he was continually played out of position, Van Gaal using his hefty price tag as an excuse that he has to deliver wherever he plays.
And that is nonsense. Let’s use Rio Ferdinand as an example here. He cost £30 million when he joined United from Leeds in 2002, but would he have realistically have been expected to perform in a position that he was not familiar with? Of course not.
Then there is the Argentine’s comments about moving to France to win trophies. This was a comment that angered many a Manchester United fan. As for me, I totally got what he was saying. If this season has shown us anything, it is that the club are miles away from winning the Premier League. When Manchester United are struggling to make top four, not least challenging for the title, in a league where Leicester City are the frontrunners followed by Tottenham Hotspur, serious questions need to be asked.
“Winning trophies in France doesn’t count” was one Tweet I saw. Again, nonsense. Why doesn’t it? Because it’s France? Because Paris Saint Germain are the only team capable of winning Ligue 1? Let me ask you this, does that same rule apply to Germany? Bayern Munich will this season win their fourth successive Bundesliga title. Same as PSG this year. Are French teams competitive in Europe? As a whole, no. Perhaps they are in Germany, but the domestic competition is almost a non-event, just like in France.
Had he, for example, headed to Greece and joined Olympiakos I could understand the criticism. At Olympiakos he would win endless trophies. Afterall, they have won 17 of the last 19 Greek Super Leagues. However, they are miles away from competing outside of Greece. PSG, in comparison, as a complete squad, ooze class. They have knocked Chelsea, England’s current champions, out of the Champions League in each of the past two seasons. It is completely possible that they will continue that run in the upcoming quarter-final tie against Manchester City. This is a team that contains genuine world class players. Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Edinson Cavani, Thiago Silva, Lucas Moura, Marco Verratti. The list is almost endless. By comparison, he left a Manchester United side that Marouane Fellaini is almost the first name on the team sheet.
And Di Maria has thrived since. His form at PSG has been what United fans only saw glimpses of. 14 goals and 13 assists. He was a world class player when he joined Old Trafford, and he is a world class player now in Paris.
Angel Di Maria didn’t fail Manchester United. Manchester United failed him. Louis Van Gaal has been quick to try to shift the blame back to the player but it once again exposes his frailties. He took a player who was Man of the Match in the Champions League final as Real Madrid recorded their tenth European title, and turned him into a player who struggled against Yeovil.
It used to be said that no player could recover from leaving Manchester United, that their career was only downhill from there. Di Maria has proved the contrary, and, for me, that is down to Louis Van Gaal and his ego.
Last night Valencia sacked Manchester United legend Gary Neville and immediately turned their sights to Jose Mourinho, according to several media reports.
The deal between Manchester United and Jose Mourinho has long been thought of as all-but-complete for some time now but with Valencia keen to act swiftly following Neville’s dismissal, the former Real Madrid manager could be tempted by the immediate availability and guarantees that the Spanish club could offer, despite an alleged pre-contract between United and Mourinho thought to be in place.
“I always say that I need competition and I need competition every week and in Spain, I was at an amazing club but I had four matches a year: Barcelona v Real Madrid, Real Madrid v Barcelona and after that we’d win 4-0, 5-0, 4-1, 6-1.
It was difficult to win because two monsters are together, but it was easy to win matches. Difficult to win the league because you are competing against another team that also win and win and win like you do, so in the end, I was champion in Spain with 100 points and I lost a league in Spain with 91 points.
In England, you can win the leagues with 75 points, maybe less, so I needed competition.”
Mourinho is still odds-on with the bookies to be in charge at Old Trafford come August, although he is now 8/1 to be in charge at Valencia at the beginning of next season.
Speaking after the embarrassing defeat to Liverpool on Thursday, United boss, Louis van Gaal, claimed that his three year plan is still working as his team are still fighting on three fronts: top four, Europa League and FA Cup.
We are in three different competitions, and at this stage of the season a lot of other teams and managers cannot say that. We still have the chance to win something.
When asked about United’s inconsistency this season, he had this to say:
I have to always keep changing the team. I have been unable to play the same lineup in many matches because of injuries or tired players. When you are in three competitions and you don’t have too many players it is difficult.
You can read the full article on the Guardian website by clicking here.
As a United fan, and I’m sure the same goes for most of you, listening to Louis van Gaal’s excuses just makes me want to push my fingers into my eyes.
So, your three year plan is still working is it, Louis? If your three year plan was to have us struggling for top four, getting eliminated from a winnable Champions League group stage and possibly guiding us toward another Champions League-less season, then yes. Your plan is working.
And don’t blame injuries and tiredness of players as an excuse for our poor season. You’ve had millions of pounds and several transfer windows to prevent that from happening. And didn’t you recently say that NOT buying players was intentional so that you could give youth a chance?
You’re making it up as you go, Louis. You’re making up excuses to suit the situation. Well, you’re just making a fool of yourself.
Can you remember the last time you got excited to watch Manchester United?
I know I can’t.
Do you remember the days when you knew, no matter what, United would put on an entertaining performance for the fans? The pride you would feel in knowing your club would always fight to the end. And the manager lived and breathed for the team as much as we did?
Now look at us. A shell of our former selves. Our former glory. ‘They always score.’ Not any more. ‘They never give up.’ We do now.
In all my time supporting Manchester United, through the happy times and sad moments, I’ve never been as fed up. Or felt as let down. This season I’ve been close to falling asleep at Old Trafford. The theatre of dreams. Where dreams are usually made, nightmares have been created.
Louis van Gaal proclaimed that we’re happy to be in the Europa League’ and being champions is in the past. You don’t speak for me. Or the majority of fiercely loyal fans. Your excuses will not wash with us. We will not accept what we have become because you tell us to. Like our team used to do, we will fight until the very end. Until we finally see a team that resembles the one we fell in love with.
Okay. It was never going to be easy replacing Sir Alex Ferguson. As David Moyes found out. It was never going to be simple to replicate the impossible dream Fergie created. I’m not expecting miracles here. And I understand patience is key. But in two years now, I see no improvement, ridiculous comments coming from the managers mouth and a shadow of the team we once were. This isn’t, and never will be acceptable.
We simply can’t settle for this anymore. Players out of position, arrogance with no merit and out of date tactics that have no place in modern football.
I respect that Louis has experienced success in the past. But it simply isn’t working anymore. He doesn’t get Manchester United. What the team means to us. Our pride in everything we’ve achieved. The football we expect to see.
I can’t excuse the players because, currently, on a Thursday night, I’m watching a truly dismal performance. The board clearly only care about the money that lines their pockets because our voices don’t hold the same importance to them as our cash.
So, I’m not saying Louis van Gaal is the sole reason we’re in the position we’re in. But he’s certainly played a big part in it.
Ultimately, anyone who accepts what we’ve become are the ones living in the past. We want to create our future. Not conform to rigid ways and a manager who believes his way is the only way and change doesn’t exist.
We are Manchester United. We are better than this!
I can only hope by May the stubborn one shuts the door on his way out. Another year of this is simply unthinkable.
In his latest press conference, Manchester United boss Louis van Gaal, has suggested that United fans must stop living in the past and dwelling on past successes and instead, embrace the Europa League.
Although the Dutchman acknowledged that the Europa League is not particularly popular in England, he would not accept that it was ‘unsatisfactory’ for a club like Manchester United to be competing in it.
Speaking about the negative view that United supporters have of the Europa League, he said that 58,000 fans came out to watch United against Midtjylland at Old Trafford and that shows that the fans do appreciate the competition. He added that he also believes there will be a full house at Old Trafford when Liverpool visit for the 2nd leg.
Yes, I have noticed that you have a negative view, but you have noticed against Midtjylland there were 58,000 fans at Old Trafford, so the fans of Manchester United are appreciating it. How many fans do you think there will be against Liverpool? I think 75,000. And I also think Liverpool will be sold out. That is what I have to say – it is very important for both teams.
You can read the full article on the Guardian website by clicking here.
A club of Manchester United’s stature should always be aiming for the very best and it doesn’t come better than the UEFA Champions League. United are considered one of Europe’s elite clubs and Europe’s elite clubs ply their trade in the Champions League.
So it frustrates me to hear Louis van Gaal saying that we should embrace the Europa League. Okay, this season we really have no choice and it’s looking increasingly unlikely that we will qualify for next year’s Champions League with top 4 slipping away and if we progress to the last 8 of the Europa League, there are several difficult teams we could face.
Louis van Gaal knows that Manchester United belong in the Champions League. So why is he ‘bigging-up’ the Europa League, trying to make it seem acceptable for Manchester United to compete in it?
It’s because he is failing to secure a top four spot and he is worried that he may also fail to guide United to a Europa League triumph. The best he can aim for then is to finish the Premier League season in a Europa League spot. So it makes sense for him to be urging us fans to ’embrace’ it.
Well, I’m sorry Louis, but we belong in the Champions League.
Even the most avid Louis Van Gaal fan would struggle to reel off a list of things he has got right during his time in charge. It is no secret that his near two years in charge, this season in particular, has been dire to say the least but, if there is one thing that he certainly is not guilty of, it is sticking to the club tradition of blooding youngsters into the first team squad.
The more skeptical of us may believe that this is due to the squad being unnecessarily thin whilst LVG himself claims that he deliberately scaled down the squad in order to bring in youth players. Whatever the truth is, recent weeks have seen some much improved performances on the pitch, with the recent emergence of Marcus Rashford proving to be the real highlight.
In truth, the writing was on the wall from the very beginning of LVG’s tenure, having included Jesse Lingard and Tyler Blackett in his very first matchday squad in 2014. Since then, a further 12 academy players have made their debuts for the club, with some of those beginning to become a regular presence around the squad.
Cameron Borthwick-Jackson, at 19-years-old, looks like he has massive potential and has recorded some steady performances within the back four this season. Tim Fosu-Mensah made his debut as a substitute in the recent win over Arsenal, before starting the subsequent game against Watford where he put in a decent shift. And then there is the aforementioned Marcus Rashford. In only three games for United, the youngster has already been sounded out for an England call-up and been touted as ‘the next big thing’.
Granted, it is far too early to claim that Rashford will indeed turn out to be a top player, we have been here before after all (Macheda anyone?), but the early indications are positive, with the well-documented doubles against FC Midtjylland and Arsenal propelling him from the unknown to household name.
The most frustrating aspect of the youngsters utilised to date by LVG is the under-use of Andreas Pereira. The 20-year-old is seen by many as the crown jewel of United’s academy but has seemingly been overlooked on occasion by Van Gaal. What is more frustrating is that the Brazilian is being overlooked by Jesse Lingard who, as another academy graduate given his debut under the Dutchman, has produced moments of brilliance and mediocrity in equal measure. It is widely known around Old Trafford that many fans would like to see Pereira given more of an opportunity over the coming months, with many sensing he could prove to be as big a loss as Paul Pogba if he was to decide his future lay away from the club.
Louis Van Gaal has always stated that when he leaves the club he will leave it in a better state than when he arrived. As recent as three weeks ago that was hard to believe. However, these claims are now becoming easier to understand. Of course, any manager could have come in and spent what the Dutchman has, and more than likely delivered some silverware, but what LVG is achieving is a squad which could be able to compete for the next 10 years. It is far too early to launch any ‘class of 92’ comparisons but the latest class could be one that helps the club begin to reach the levels that we are all used to and expect.
So Manchester City have finally confirmed the world’s worst kept secret and announced that outgoing Bayern Munich manager Pep Guardiola will take over the reigns at The Ethiad from next season. The question is, with Manchester City now going for broke, how can Manchester United counteract what could effectively prove to be checkmate?
My initial reaction to the news that Guardiola had made Manchester City his next venture was one of anger. As I let it sink it, it was still anger. How could Manchester United, the biggest club in the world lose out on the most sought-after coach in world football? Worse still, how could they lose out to the ‘noisy neighbours’? Whichever way one looks at it, this could prove to be the biggest and most fatal error made by Ed Woodward. Manchester City have everything in place to dominate European football for years to come whilst Woodward’s blind faith in Louis Van Gaal could leave United playing catch up.
Manchester City have been ruthless. Nobody agreed with the sacking of Mark Hughes and the treatment of Pelligrini has echoes of that that Sparky endured at the beginning of their takeover. However, what City have recognised is that the capture of Guardiola is a significant one. Pellegrini has, without doubt, been a success at City and could still end this season with four trophies. It would seem, at first glance certainly, that outing the Chilean is incredibly harsh and winning at least one of those trophies would back that fact up. However, Guardiola is worth taking that risk. United, and Woodward in particular, have once again failed by failing to act quickly.
Pellegrini has won two trophies in two seasons at City, whilst over at Old Trafford Louis Van Gaal can’t get a win over Bournemouth. The truth of the matter is that, with Louis Van Gaal in charge, United cannot expect to get anywhere near a Manchester City side with Guardiola at the helm. In truth, with Van Gaal in charge, United can’t get anywhere near a Leicester side with Claudio Ranieri in charge.
The way I see it is that United are now left with no choice. United now need to follow their neighbours lead and chase the next best thing…Jose Mourinho. I get the reasons not to appoint him, I really do. His lack of use of youth players is a real worry, and the one reason I would have picked Guardiola over him. The other reason, the one many United fans have voiced concern over, is one that I cannot get my head around. Negative football. Ok, yes, Mourinho plays a brand of football that is not particularly pleasing on the eye. However, is it any worse than what we are witnessing right now? The answer is of course no. The difference is that it is effective. LVG currently plays negative football, we all know that by now, but the end result is not one that Mourinho will achieve.
And then there is the one big fact, the one that cannot be ignored under any circumstance. Who is the only manager to stop Pep Guardiola winning a league title? You guessed it…Jose Mourinho.