Van Gaal is killing Man Utd
It’s been a topsy-turvy campaign in the Premier League this season with all the top teams tripping over themselves in one of the most anarchic title races in recent years. Whilst no team can rival the laughable demise of Chelsea, Manchester United’s sleep inducing football comes in at a close second. Louis van Gaal has seen his face plastered over the back pages in the past week and for far from flattering reasons.
This is Manchester United: three times European champions, twenty times champions of England and a bastille of goals and offensive football. However, this season, the club’s ethos seems to have been ejected from Old Trafford and lays sodden in the River Irwell.
Van Gaal is a world-class manager but his erratic behaviour in the transfer window and baffling philosophy have seen United become a laughing stock. If we could expect one thing from the Red Devils in the past it would be goals but now they are nowhere in sight. 75,000 people are packing Old Trafford every week to see their side play laborious, defensive football.
This weekend’s 1-0 defeat to Southampton was simply the cherry on the cake. United had smuggled a number of 0-0 draws and narrow victories, such as that against Liverpool, but they were simply papering over the cracks. Once defeat struck, the stadium swiftly transpired into a cacophony of chants wanting Van Gaal’s head.
Such negative and drab football has gone on for so long that supporters are left wondering when it will ever end. Besides, the Red Devils haven’t scored a league goal in the first half at Old Trafford since September 26. If you’re a Manchester United supporter, there’s simply no need to rush on a Saturday, you might as well just stride in at half time. It’s ridiculous!
The writing was firmly on the wall. Van Gaal sold Radamel Falcao, Robin van Persie and Javier Hernandez in the summer as well as loaning out James Wilson over Christmas. Yet, in return, the Dutchman only introduced Antony Martial. The French forward is an undoubtedly talented striker but he can’t be expected to fill the shoes of FOUR attackers.
Van Gaal should be thankful that Martial has remained fit otherwise the club would be in a real rut.
This damaging trend of results has been a recurring issue but in past months, the Red Devils’ defence had stood resolute and evaded any United blushes. However with the back four now failing them, their offensive frailties are being exposed and the club is leaving itself open to defeat. As long as the opposition score once, they’re highly likely to bag a win.
Wayne Rooney is improving his goal scoring but he is far from an out-and-out striker, whilst Martial has only contributed five league goals. The club simply does not possess a lethal forward and consequently they are failing miserably to find the net.
It’s very easy to say Van Gaal should shift the team to a more positive, attacking philosophy, but it isn’t as simple as that. The ex-Barcelona manager could throw the kitchen sink at the opposition goal but with such few proven finishers, they’ll still struggle to score. When your squad is seemingly 90% midfielders, there can be no quarrels about finding row Z more often than the net.
Coupled with Van Gaal’s stubborn philosophy of slow, clunky and redundant possession football, you have a recipe for dull performances. Unless United start finding the goals, they will continue to slide down the table and their manager will be shepherded ever closer to the exit.
It’s ironic, just weeks after labelling a journalist ‘fat’ at a press conference, it seems the Dutchman has fat chance of making it to the end of season as Manchester United manager.
Kobe Tong, YJA Senior Sports Correspondent