Louis Van Gaal spoke confidently at the start of his tenure at Manchester United giving himself the excuse that the squad he had inherited was broken and he would need time to implement (the so called philosophy / process) to get the reds of Manchester someone near where they would want to be.
Fast forward 18+ months and the team is even more broken and arguably WORSE than at the time he took over, now there are no excuses – the Dutchman has been given everything he has asked for and more. He is the guy that has spent 250m+ on players; he is the guy that plays possession football with minimal incisiveness, he is the guy not averse to putting players under the bus for daring to do something they have not been told to, he is the guy whose tactics are outdated. He seemingly has a squad full of robots with a worryingly soft centre, which was yet again exposed, this time by a Newcastle side (who are in the bottom three) and had not scored a goal in its previous four games. You can get away with all of the above IF you are getting results. He isn’t by the way 2 wins in 11 and one of those a last minute win over a League One side.
It very much seems the current vintage at Old Trafford can only play pretty boring football of pass pass pass – possession possession possession where they struggle to shoot at goal let alone score, but are solid at the back or they go expansive create chances but they show that very soft centre and are easy to get at. Yes the players on the pitch need to do better, but LVG picks the tactics and personnel – something that is clearly not working as we stand. For me there has to be a balance and when you have spent the money that the Iron Tulip has so far, then those gaps should be on their way to being filled and its obvious they are not. For me it is clear some of the squad are not sold on the LVG philosophy / process and on the pitch big mistakes are being made – missed chances, schoolboy defending, no midfield control, lack of leaders – these are major issues. It’s no secret the manager is under pressure and the players will be fully aware of this and subconsciously in my opinion some are not doing everything they can to keep the him in a job.
In his defence he is managing a club that is being run shambolically. Ed Woodward (the Executive Vice- Chairman) to give his full title is a commercial genius but his football nous is virtually zero. He is the man in charge but is so indecisive whether its transfers or making a decision about the current manager. His tenure in charge at the Theatre of Dreams for the last two and a half years plus has yielded a big increase in their commercial portfolio but has seen a major downturn on the footballing side and unless this element improves then it will eat into the coffers big time when those deals will start to dwindle because companies do not want to be associated with a faltering brand.
LAST CHANCE SALOON???
It’s Liverpool up next, this coming Sunday at Anfield. This could be the final chapter for LVG if a heavy defeat occurs, though with clueless Ed in charge (football matters) you never know, especially as he has not given any public backing to his under pressure manager, which tells me that he is being monitored on a game by game basis – one bad result and that could be it. He has already shown his ruthlessness with his sacking of David Moyes, especially as the media seemed to know before the Scotsman did – maybes that’s why ‘Our Eddie’ has got away with minimal press bashing for so long – brief them and they are nice to you – no matter how poor you are at your job. My advice for this weekend at Liverpool is obiously to watch the match but hopefully you will be able to get ‘Woodward cam’ in the corner of your screen because he is the key architect of the current plight at Manchester United with chickens coming home to roost, on the football pitch anyways. Ed Woodward, man who talks a good game and thought he could take on the football establishment despite (something he has now demonstrated for nearly three years) knowing nothing about the nuances of the game at Chief Executive Level.
One positive is that this season is still salvageable (despite an embarrassing Champions League exit) as it is only January, but with a manager under pressure and a gutless Chief Executive (and board) dithering over making footballing decisions, probably to save face, we have reached a dangerous time for the 20 time top flight champions of England. Something needs to change surely!!!!!!! Especially as their minimum target is now a fourth place finish (at the start of the season it was third place and a trophy / Champions League run to at least the quarter finals) however that looks a pipe dream on current form. Another season out of the Champions League beckons as we stand with the knock on effect being a number of players maybe wanting out at Old Trafford (and not necessarily because of the manager) and also potential targets may move elsewhere. Things most definitely have the potential to get far worse for the reds of Manchester, let’s hope Ed has realised this after nearly three years at the helm of one of the biggest clubs in the world.
Let me know what you think.
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