Manchester United fans all around the world will be wondering what Louis van Gaal will be able to do at the club this year. When Sir Alex Ferguson announced his retirement, United fans wholeheartedly accepted David Moyes as the next in charge. He was handpicked by Ferguson, he came from the same Scottish heritage, and he quickly was given the name ‘the Chosen One’.
However, there turned out to be one major flaw in the equation. David Moyes lacked the United spirit. There are clear cut examples that the United job was just too big for him. He failed to sign quality players during his first summer, he failed to create a consistent starting lineup for the duration of the season, and was unable to motivate or gain the respect of the players. When United found themselves losing games, Moyes would be seen with his arms crossed slouching into his chair seemingly looking to escape the situation. Even though United fans supported him through his tough run, everyone could tell he just was not the man for the job.
Will Van Gaal be the answer United are looking for? Van Gaal has much more experience than Moyes did and he has a proven winning record. While United fans will appreciate his resume, they will be more impressed with his mentality. His attitude for winning reminds me of another certain manager. Any questions about his willingness to win should have been answered to the world by his decision in the Netherlands’ World Cup game against Costa Rica.
The fact that van Gaal had the intelligence, nerve, and sheer guts to make a goalkeeper substitution in the 120th minute is remarkable. Tim Krul replaced starting goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen just before penalties. Krul went on to save two and put the Netherlands into the semifinals. Cillessen was not told there was a chance of him being taken off for cruel but his reaction after Krul saved the last shot showed all he cared about was winning the game. You could tell the team, especially the two goalkeepers, had complete trust in Van Gaal.
Media sources have been talking about Van Gaal’s harsh style of coaching and whether that abrasive personality may alienate his players. That seems to be utterly false. While some players may not take to his style personally, they do respect him. In an article run by The Daily Mail, former Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand had this to say about Van Gaal.
“He’s a hard man, strong, big on discipline within the football environment. But he also trusts his players.The other night I was in a bar with some of his Holland squad. They were mixing with the public, having a bite to eat. They knew their curfew and would respect it. He believes in his players. They believe in him. Having faith in the man in charge is a huge part of achieving success in our game. The best managers earn that faith”.
With the combination of Louis van Gaal and club legend Ryan Giggs at the helm, United could see a return to form quicker than expected. It will not be easy by any measure and there is no guarantee that United will dominate the Premier League like it has done for so many seasons. Liverpool, Arsenal, Chelsea, and Manchester City have all been busy this summer with their transfers and they will all be looking to keep Manchester United far away from the top spot. United fans expect wins. We have been spoiled over the Sir Alex Ferguson era and want to return to it as soon as possible.
What we desire nearly as much as wins is the return to the United mentality. Make Old Trafford a fortress again, make opposing teams fear us again, put the desire back in the players, play fast attacking football, cut the fat off the squad and return to the top where the club belongs. If anyone has a chance of accomplishing that mission, it is Louis van Gaal.
What do you think, was van Gaal the right choice?