No win in eight games, four losses on the bounce, a measly draw to a very underwhelming Chelsea side, and somehow, Louis van Gaal is still the manger of Manchester United.
This isn’t Manchester United. This isn’t the club that Sir Alex Ferguson forged. This isn’t a team that other teams fear. This side is a betrayal of everything Manchester United once stood for.
One month ago, after the late drama at Vicarage Road, Manchester United found themselves one point off the top with a win at Watford. The football was predictable and tiresome, yet because of the Premier League table position, the performances were constantly overlooked.
Now, sitting in sixth position, no win in eight games, the pressure is rightly turned on and Louis van Gaal finds himself in an all too familiar place of facing the sack.
The fans are restless and want something to be done, but out of respect, will not show their disapproval of the current performances at Old Trafford.
Instead, they will get behind their team and manager in the pure hope of something clicking and creating euphoria around the ground – something that hasn’t been felt since under Ferguson. Years ago.
There are worries that Manchester United will become a sacking club: first Moyes and now LvG, but that’s not the case. You can’t stick with a manager in the fear of being perceived as a sacking club.
You’d think you’d much rather be a club with a manager that amounts success with the team, even if it does take two managers to achieve that, rather than a club who is worryingly under-performing in every aspect.
Louis van Gaal was brought in to execute a three year plan before his retirement. The first year was to claim Manchester United’s past glories and bring European football back to Old Trafford; he just about did that in securing fourth place.
The second year was to build on those foundations, secure some necessary additions to the squad, progress in Europe and really mount a challenge domestically. However, that’s not happened.
The former Barcelona manager may have made some astute signings last summer, but he’s also cut the squad to mere scraps. The Red Devils crashed out in Europe before Christmas, and although they should be contending the title considering the quality on show, they’re not and they won’t.
It’s a sad state of affairs. Allegedly, the players have lost faith in their Dutch boss, the manager’s lost faith in the players meanwhile the Chief Executive, Ed Woodward, continue to publicly back him. From what’s been said by Mark Ogden – Independent’s Northern football writer – Woodward distrusts the Class of 92 and is therefore reluctant to give the manager’s job to Ryan Giggs, LvG’s current assistant.
Ogden went on to say that while some United board advisors don’t fully back Louis van Gaal, Ed Woodward does. One of the main reasons why the Dutchman hasn’t yet been relieved of his duties is due to this also being Woodward’s reputation on stake.
Remember, this was his decision to go for LvG and he was rather public about that. To sack a manager 18 months into his contract would look bad on Woodward’s part and his ability as Chief Executive of a global football club – everything has implications.
However, by prolonging what seems an inevitable sacking, Woodward is running Manchester United like a circus. The results aren’t coming in and as long as there’s speculation and unease, the players are not going to feel comfortable and play to their true potential.
if Manchester United are to return to where they belong – at the top – then they need to part ways with van Gaal and appoint José Mourinho. The Portuguese manager may provide some turbulence at times, but he does guarantee success.
The days of dynasties at clubs are over. Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger were the last two of a dying age of managers. A manager is now brought in to execute a three-year plan and then leave the club in an appropriate fashion for the next manager. And repeat.
José Mourinho is a must, and although some senior advisors may not like it, he will put Manchester United back on the pedestal they are now longing for. If Woodward and the board fail to secure Mourinho or Pep Guardiola, and have to appoint Ryan Giggs, mediocrity beckons for this once great club.
By Liam Canning – @OffsideLiam