By Alex McMahon
Patience is running thin for LvG amongst some United fans
Manchester United crashed out of the FA Cup quarter-finals after yet another slow, lethargic performance under Louis Van Gaal. The Dutchman’s side were beaten 2-1 by the Gunners, with former United striker Danny Welbeck scoring the winning goal at Old Trafford. Van Gaal chose to sell the England international, claiming that the 24-year-old was only good enough for the substitute bench at the club. Since Van Gaal took over, possession has grown in importance and players seem afraid to take risks when on the ball. Although the 63-year-old has guided the Red Devils to fourth in the Premier League, they have been lacklustre and often ‘boring’ to watch. We take a look at eight reasons why Van Gaal is not the right man to manage Manchester United.
Transformed the ‘United style of play’
Manchester United have always played with wingers in the modern era. Van Gaal has started to play wing-backs in 3-5-2 formations, or has selected players in wide areas but on opposite wings and encouraged them to cut inside and keep possession. Meanwhile, the attacking midfielders appear scared to lose possession and instead of attempting a shot on goal, they often lay the ball off and restart the attack from the defence. This is very easy to defend against and Van Gaal may need to reconsider his attacking strategy if he is to keep the supporters on-side for the foreseeable future.
Lack of goals
The Red Devils have always scored plenty of goals during the Premier League season, yet they are struggling to find the net this campaign. Wayne Rooney is United’s top scorer, despite spending a large part of the year in central midfield – a statistic that highlights Van Gaal’s current striking problem. After selling the likes of Danny Welbeck and Javier Hernandez in the summer, the Dutchman has failed to bring in another striker who can guarantee 20 goals a season. Van Gaal must act quickly in the summer and pray that his acquisitions fare better than the on-loan Radamel Falcao.
Bailed out by his goalkeeper
David de Gea is the best goalkeeper in the world at the moment, and he has saved Van Gaal’s side on multiple occasions throughout this season. Without the Spaniard’s heroics, it would be difficult to estimate where United would currently sit in the Premier League table – although it certainly wouldn’t be anywhere close to the top four. Manchester United have lost just three of their last 23 matches but a large reason is because of de Gea’s shotstopping ability between the sticks. If the Reds lose him in the summer, they will face the near impossible task of replacing him.
The table is skewed after slow starts for other sides
Van Gaal’s side are currently fourth in the Premier League table, however they haven’t played like a top four side. In fact, it could be argued that they are currently in a European spot purely because other clubs have slipped up earlier in the season. With Liverpool, Arsenal and Tottenham all starting to come into form, Van Gaal’s team really need to get a grip and continue grinding out victories against the sides around them in the table. If the Dutchman cannot lead his team to results against the bigger clubs in the league, they will not finish in the top four this year.
No Premier League experience
For all of Van Gaal’s experience, he has never managed in the Premier League. Many supporters often claim that players haven’t adjusted to England’s top flight, but has Van Gaal? His tactics are often very similar to those adopted during Holland’s World Cup run, while his knowledge of other English opponents is sometimes a little vague. Meanwhile, seasoned Premier League managers know opposing sides well and can plan to neutralise their strengths in advance. The 63-year-old may have managed some of the greatest teams in the world, but not every manager can adapt to the pace and style of the Premier League.
Many supporters have started to raise their voices against some of Van Gaal’s substitutions in recent weeks, and who can blame them? The Dutchman has looked desperate at times, and his reaction to Ashley Young’s late winner at Newcastle last week told its own story. He has been criticised in the past for bringing off the likes of Radamel Falcao, Ander Herrera and Robin van Persie while also bringing on defensive minded players when chasing matches. Most recently, he brought on Adnan Januzaj instead of Falcao when 2-1 down to Arsenal in the FA Cup – a substitution that certainly wasn’t welcomed at Old Trafford.
Transfers haven’t paid off
Being honest, his transfers haven’t paid off at all so far. Marcos Rojo has been the best buy so far and the Argentine has provided some form of resistance at the back during his early United career. However, superstars Angel Di Maria and Falcao have been poor and certainly haven’t justified their price tag or wage bill. Meanwhile, some of the players loaned out – such as Nani – have started to show their qualities and may be working their way back into Van Gaal’s plans for next season. Only time will tell, but there’s no doubt the Dutchman needs to invest heavily in the summer once again.
He still doesn’t know his best team
The Dutchman has recently admitted that he still doesn’t know his best team, despite being at the helm for the majority of the season. It is fair to say that United have had to cope with their fair share of injury problems this year, but Van Gaal should have a general idea of his ‘best’ starting XI by now. If the Red Devils finish in the top four and secure Champions League football, expect more incomings and outgoings from the Theatre of Dreams this summer as the Dutchman attempts to strengthen his squad.
What are your thoughts on Van Gaal? Do you believe that it is still too early to judge, or do you think that the Dutchman’s style of play doesn’t matter as long as United continue to win matches? Let us know your thoughts in the comments box below.