The Curious Case of Louis Van Gaal
“Two weeks ago I was the king of Manchester United and after one match I am the devil.”
These were the famous words of the gaffer Louis Van Gaal after his defeat to Swansea City on the opening day of the season. After United’s optimistic pre-season tour, the Old Trafford faithful had a glimmer of hope. However, a 2-1 defeat by the swans punctured their hopes. Van Gaal came under much criticism from the media and the fans alike.
“That's the football world and especially the media in this football world. I think the fans of Manchester are intelligent. I've already said that the first three months will be difficult for the players and the fans. I've said it to [Ed] Woodward [the chief executive] and the Glazers that this is what it is.”
True to his words, the first three months were tough for everyone. United losing to Swansea and Leicester, the draw against Sunderland and Burnley and the Derby defeat made matters worse for them.
But as it is said, “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.”
Currently, United sit fourth in the Premier league table with 23 games compared to 24 played by the top three. With the Champions league Qualification in sight for the next season, United are en-route to their glory days. Still there is a lot of work to be done to ensure their efforts bear fruits.
To be appointed as the Manager of Manchester United is an honour in itself. “With Great power comes great responsibility.” This responsibility is bound to give sleepless nights to many. You might wake up in the middle of the night thinking “Whom am I going to play tomorrow?”, “Will this formation work?” or “How would I tackle Jose?” All these thoughts keep running through your head. Add the expectations of the fans and the board to this, the pressure becomes immense. It seems that your mind can explode any given point of time.
The expectation to succeed is more owing to the reign of Sir Alex Ferguson for the past quarter of a century. The Scot ruled with an iron hand, bringing unrivalled laurels to the club and taking them to unprecedented heights. The biggest fear for Van Gaal is to decide whether to step into the shoes of the Legend or create a destiny of his own at Old Trafford.
Louis van Gaal has all the ingredients to be called the Devil of the Stretford end. His Ajax team of 95’ and Milan team of 07’ bear testimony to it. He truly believes in his philosophy and his style of football. The team may find it difficult to adapt to his style at the beginning but once they start gelling, the results will be fruitful. More than stats, it the confidence of the squad that matters. Football is all about how you play the game on any given Sunday. Unlike his previous counterpart, David Moyes, Van Gaal has instilled confidence in his players. The squad believe in themselves and the ability to turn things around at any given moment.
Youth development has always been an integral part of football at United and Van Gaal seems to be following it. We had the famed class of 92’ and many youngsters after them coming through the youth system at the club. Van Gaal has given game time to Tyler Blackett and Paddy McNair. He was also active in the transfer market swooping up Falcao, Di Maria and most currently Victor Valdes. The combination of fielding marquee signings with youngsters gives them the required confidence to tackle the pressure. This also helps in building up the team for the future.
United facing West Ham today and look to capture the 3rd spot in the Premier League standings.
I say The Devil of Manchester is here to stay and take the team back to their glory days. The fans have seen enough misery. It’s time that United rise up from the ashes.
I will end the discussion by quoting the gaffer again, "I'm not hired to be fired. I'm hired to build up a team. That process needs time. I bring another philosophy in the club. You have to believe in the philosophy that again we make a big club but it needs time. It is not an overnight job."