After Manchester United embarrassingly bowed out of the Champions League this week, questions are now beginning to surface over the future of Louis van Gaal. And rightly so.
The Dutch boss was hired for one simple reason: to pick up the pieces from David Moyes’s tenure the year before. 18 months in and LvG has practically done what he’s been set out to do. From seventh to fourth, Champions League was returned and parity was – in the meantime – restored.
Van Gaal formed a resolute defence that possesses the best record so far this season in the Premier League, only conceding 10 goals.
However, that robust defence has come at a cost – the attacking display is now insipid and uninspiring. There’s no excitement in the way that The Dictator is setting out his players to play.
With no extensions, United will part ways with the current boss in the summer of 2016; however, fans will be urging to make that date with destiny come sooner if Pep Guardiola – currently of Bayern Munich – becomes available in the near future.
We’ve seen a stale season so far from Manchester United, exiting early from both the Capital One Cup and the Champions League.
Although the Red Devils’ Premier League position looks healthy, we also have to question whether the other teams around them are playing at their high-flying peak.
United may be second, but five 0-0’s already with it only being December is worrying. Very worrying. It’s not outlandish to suggest that van Gaal is betraying everything that Manchester United, as a club, stands for.
Flair, passion, integrity, attacking prowess: where is it? Apart from a 0-3 raid at Goodison Park, United fans have not got their money’s worth and it’s surprising that they haven’t turned on him sooner.
Sir Alex Ferguson’s football wasn’t exciting all the time, it wasn’t 4-3’s here, 5-3’s there and 7-1’s everywhere, but one thing you could count on a team playing under the great Scotsmen was integrity.
Those players played for the shirt and more importantly, their manager. The likes of Rio Ferdinand, Nemanja Vidić and Patrice Evra would come off the pitch after 90 minutes, sweat dripping from their shirt knowing that they couldn’t have given more.
You look at the group of players that are currently ‘playing’ for van Gaal and you think half of them couldn’t be arsed whether the result goes this way or that.
There’s a distinct lack of passion stinking out Old Trafford which ultimately boils down to the man in charge. Why can’t he get the best out of his players?
It would be silly to say United’s hierarchy should sack Louis van Gaal tomorrow. What good would that be to anyone?
Come next summer, however, with the likes of Carlo Ancelotti and possibly Pep Guardiola becoming free agents, the Red Devils have to do everything within their power to persuade one of them to join.
After spending the best part of a quarter of a billion, and the failed marquee signings of Ángel di María and Radamel Falcao, there is no inclination to suggest that the Dutch manager is the right man to lead Manchester United into a new era.
For now, it’s a ‘suck it up’ scenario, as these performances will most likely remain the same and boredom will reach new peaks. But always remember: it’s just a waiting game.
You can follow Liam Canning @OffsideLiam