A penny for the thoughts of Louis Van Gaal at the moment. I have said before on this blog he is undoubtedly a very good manager, however he is also 64 years old and seemingly set in his ways with his so called philosophy / process. He sounded rather downbeat after their pathetic 0-0 draw against PSV Eindhoven and so he should be because he and his team have made a right ‘horlicks’ of a pretty straightforward (compared to some of the others) Champions League Group. For example they could not even beat a PSV side who actually sold their best player to Manchester United in Memphis Depay for 25 million+ – I know whose laughing now. On 8th December their Champions League fate will be decided – only a victory will do (PSV are not going to lose to an already cut adrift CSKA) or a drop into the Europa League will be the ‘ahem’ consolation prize and Ed Woodward will be crying into his empty money bag as the Champions League pot rides on past Old Trafford. The Thursday / Sunday turnaround may well be on the minds of the travel co-ordinators at Old Trafford – something I’m sure they weren’t anticipating back in August.
2 steps forward 1 back
To be fair to LVG he has got Manchester United to second (as I post this) in the Premier League and he deserves credit for that – they may even be top by the time you read this as they play Leicester tomorrow (28th November) in a top of the table clash. They are solid defensively – however they have been far from convincing in a number of matches this season – functional is the word I would use. I heard one person say they are trying to nick results and I have to agree – after a 250m spend over his tenure they should be imposing themselves on teams but for some reason his philosophy / process does not really lend to this on a regular basis. The players need to take some of the responsibility as it is not just down to the manager, some have clearly thrived under the Dutchman – Mike Smalling, Jesse Lingard, Luke Shaw who was outstanding until his injury, however others are clearly not and they need to step up sooner rather than later – maybe they just don’t fit into the managers philosophy / process which seems pretty rigid to me. A respected reporter even said on a radio station this last week that one Manchester United player has told him he is only “half the player he can be under Van Gaal” now whether that’s a damning indictment on the player or manager who knows, but its a major worry for LVG if a player is happy to speak to a journalist about something like that.
Adapt man ADAPT!!!!!!!
In my opinion, LVG needs to now look at himself in the mirror, sort himself out, accept he is part of the problem (privately) at least and adapt his tactics accordingly. There is a time for solidity but there is also a time to take the handbrake off and let the players have a bit of freedom – copious sideways passing with less than 10 minutes to go in a match you need to win, against a team happy with a point is not beneficial or seen as acceptable especially by supporters. Coincidentally it’s interesting that fans (and the board) were not too enamoured by David Moyes but under the Iron Tulip the football is actually worse, the only difference being 180m more spent (so you would expect a better brand of football on a more consistent basis than what is being served up) and a higher league position – as always results the key for any manager and if Louis starts NOT getting them he may well find himself spending a lot more time holidaying in Portugal.
A Ronny Return???????
Cristiano Ronaldo is a Manchester United legend but a return to Old Trafford, I’m not sure, especially as I personally don’t think he is the solution to United’s problems on the pitch long term (I have been known to be wrong mind). If United pay 60-80 million (plus at least 300k a week wages more likely closer to 400k I suspect – Jorge Mendes is his agent after all) for a 31 year old, it will be more of a commercial buy just to make Manchester United money whether they are winning football matches or not. They did similar last summer with Bastian Schweinsteiger, the difference being that even though he is on massive wages his transfer fee was far less prohibitive. For me Ronny’s time at United ended perfectly for both parties, Fergie persuaded him to say for one more season and he helped them win their third title in succession (I like to forget about the Champions League Final that year – a 2-0 defeat to Barcelona in Rome) and then he got his wish with a move to Real Madrid. The Red Devils need to look for somebody in their 20s (25-27 – Bale or Mueller will do) as their next mega money buy – they will get more years out of them and they will most definitely be in the prime of their career, that is something you could question in relation to Ronaldo. Surely United fans would not want to see him come back a lesser player just to keep the commercial bigwigs happy, that would be the ultimate slap in the face after the clubs disorganised and lets be honest panic ridden transfer windows led by the lesser spotted Ed Woodward.
Let me know what you think
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