Right after all the furore has died down over one of the worst kept secrets in football history, I have waited a week before giving my take on the appointment of Louis Van Gaal (or King Louis as he will be known – if winning that is) as manager of Manchester United.
10 months was all that was given to the Moyes experiment, soon after their defeat to the Scotsman’s former club Everton, which saw the mathematical death knell on the clubs hopes of qualifying for the Champions League next season (defeat to Bayern 11 days earlier saw their hopes of qualifying as winner of the 2013/14 competition disappear). No sentiment from the hierarchy at the then Champions as leaks the following day were followed by the inevitable on April 22nd, a year on from when they secured the title the previous season – how coincidental (and not the first one of these either). Further leaks then emerged that a number of players did not take to the new manager or his coaching staff he had brought with him, hence performances were at times shambolic and unacceptable and as is usually the case the manager carries the can, though some of the players will have to take a long hard look at themselves, some at pastures new.
So the hunt was on for a man who could take on a set of disaffected, under performing and lets be honest in some cases – not good enough players. They needed to be a winner (something cast against David Moyes) who could handle big egos and stand up to these highly paid players. To be honest there was only one man who was actually available at this time. Yes Man Utd did the usual thing of bringing out the old ‘we will look long and hard and consider a number of candidates’ but bearing in mind the calibre of manager they were looking for were few and far between anyway, even before you look to see who is actually available. Louis Van Gaal was the only viable candidate really. He is currently preparing the Dutch National squad for the upcoming World Cup in Brazil, then after this it was previously known that he had been looking to secure a job in Premier League. Tottenham Hotspur had already made contact, but rumour has it that he had his eye on the Manchester United job and wanted to be free, ‘just in case’. In my opinion this has been a done deal for some time – maybe as far back as February and a disgraceful performance by the reds of Manchester against Olympiakos in the Champions League. All that needed fine tuning since the departure of Moyes were personal terms and the make up of the backroom team which was sorted last week with as hoped Ryan Giggs as assistant, along with the fact that Van Gaal did not want his initial World Cup training camp disrupted with ongoing negotiation. Eventually (though by no means a surprise), the ORANJE smoke came and Louis Van Gaal was officially announced as Manchester United Manager on Monday 19th May – coincidence time again as it was a year on from Sir Alex Ferguson’s last game in management, the same man that had asked the fans to ‘stand by their new manager’ – funny hey.
None of the players will be able to doubt Van Gaal’s credentials as some clearly did Moyes’. 7 league titles in 3 different countries (4 Dutch, 2 Spanish and a Bundesliga title in Germany), along with a Champions League triumph at Ajax in 1995, a UEFA Cup, 2 Uefa Super Cups and numerous domestic cup wins – a CV of the highest order. People who know and have worked with him say that it is the LVG way or the highway. He is a very confident some would say arrogant man and has a confrontational management style when necessary, who expects full focus, performance and professionalism from his players. Anyone not on task is usually dealt with quickly and is under no illusion as to what is expected – usually either shape up or ship out. Seemingly exactly what Manchester United’s dressing room needs at the moment as some players clearly were not up to standard last season and need telling this so they can either improve markedly or be sold on – as previously said some already are on their way.
Whatever King Louis brings to the dressing room, one thing that is needed are some new players. It has been clear for a number of years certain areas of the Manchester United team needed attention. Especially the midfield and now it seems the defence. The Sir Alex sticking plaster has gone and after a poor summer last year saw only Marouane Fellaini come in (for 4.5m more than he needed to be) and then Juan Mata in the January – still a 65+ million pound investment. Now Van Gaal is fully focusing on the Netherlands World Cup preparation, it falls to Ed Woodward to actually gets some deals done and preferably before the World Cup. Mr Woodward, who replaced David Gill as Chief Executive (his actual title is Excutive Vice Chairman), as Moyes replaced Ferguson, has been as culpable as the sacked manager, but has survived. He is seen as a bit of a Glazer stooge (he advised them when they were looking to purchase Manchester United and when this was completed he was asked to join the club to help with financial planning before promotion to head up the Commercial Department). After Ferguson chose Moyes, he has been the driver behind Van Gaal and now needs to deliver the targets the Dutchman has asked for. After last years joke transfer window performance (I’m still trying to work out what that so called urgent transfer business was last summer – when he left the Australian leg of pre-season – anybody???????) – he has to prove himself as someone who can get a deal done (not just one but a few) so that Manchester United can make a good go of at least getting into the top 4 next season. Surely for a club of Manchester United’s standing they must be looking to try and win the title surely – so signings secured by ‘our Eddie’ are a must – hopefully he is up to the job this time.
So what should United fans expect next season. Well lots of attacking football which will definitely be easy on the eye. However a top 4 finish??????? (which will be the minimum expected). Well there are probably 7 teams vying for the 4 spots – so three teams are going to be disappointed. LVG definitely has the pedigree to get United back to where they think they belong, but the new recruits and a quick transition from some of the insipid displays of the season gone are required ‘tout suite’. No team has a divine right to be in a particular position in the table so it will be interesting to see how King Louis’ Manchester United fare. Ed Woodward will have his fingers well and truly crossed as he has presided over one managerial failure at Old Trafford (some say – me included that he is very lucky to still be in his current role – suppose being mates of the owners helps) another one and even his friends the Glazers would realise there is only one man to blame, second chances are rare Eddie – be grateful you have one.
Let me know what you think – you can also tweet me @biggishmouth or go to my facebook page at www.facebook.com/thebiggishmouth