Van’s Still the Man!March 15, 2015
“Omelettes, eggs. No eggs, no omelettes. And it depends on the quality of the eggs in the supermarket. They are class one, two or three and some are more expensive than others and some give you better omelettes. When the class one eggs are not available you have a problem.” – Jose Mourinho.
When David Moyes was appointed as Sir Alex Ferguson’s successor, nobody had the imagination that he would fail miserably. We all believed in the human resource skills of SAF. The gaffer had been around for a quarter a century and he knew what was best for Manchester United. One statement he made of which I abide by it up to now was ‘’Stand by your manager.’’ I did it with Moyes despite his horror tenure and I still stand by his replacement Louis Van Gaal despite his near suicidal experiments.
David Moyes was accused of lacking a football brain and a philosophy. United were looking for stability and he was the guy to provide that. Proven managers like Mourinho were viewed as disruptive.
To correct the David Moyes error, United went for a proven winner: Louis Van Gaal. Surprisingly his brief tenure has been characterized by lackluster performances leading to loses against minnows like MK Dons, dropping points in winnable games against promoted sides, poor selection tactics putting him on the firing line by the fans. Is LVG entirely to blame for the current state of affairs at Old Trafford? I have criticized him in the recent past but come to think of it, he is a super driver trying to race against Ferraris while driving a 1960 Vauxhall.
Mention Louis Van Gaal and you will end up mentioning names like Marcelo Bielsa, Johan Cruyff, and Pep Guardiola et al. These coaches are best described as football romanticists. There is no doubt that Louis Van Gaal is a football genius. His CV attests to that. But how come his philosophy is not working? Has he lost his magic touch? Are players unable to understand his instructions? Is it cast in stone or can he reinvent the wheel and pull a surprise in the latter stages?
During the World Cup in Brazil he showed that tactical genius by pulling off masterstroke substitutions that ended up winning the games for him. This is something he has been unable to replicate at United so far. LVG is a perfectionist and that explains why despite poor performances day in day out, he still insists on using the same system. In his head he must be thinking, it must work come rain or sunshine.
I personally admire the 3-5-2 philosophy that LVG loves. I have seen how it can destroy teams if well executed with the right set of players. Brendan Rodgers has used it successfully and that explains why Liverpool has not lost in 2015. Despite calls to flush it down the sewer, LVG still uses it. He doesn’t fancy the 4-4-2 system which he said it makes his bum twitch because it is out of balance.
A manager as a leader should always have a stand and believe in his ideas. Though you ought to be dynamic with circumstances at hand, the rule is always never to let go off your ideals lest you are accused of being a quitter. That is what LVG has decided to show even in the face of uncertainty. In the end the players will have to start believing in his philosophy. It is evident that the players have not fully embraced the system and hence the shaky performances but the more he insists, the higher chances of players buying into his ideas. Will the United rank and file give him that grace period to baptize the players into his religion? The jury is still out on that.
LVG – Chef with Low Quality Ingredients.
Football is always equated to culinary skills because of the end of product delivered to the people to enjoy. Unfortunately the stubborn chef at United have doesn’t seem to have the best ingredients at play. What Mourinho calls class one eggs are lacking at United. Let’s do silly comparison; how many of United’s current crop of players can walk into Manchester City’s team? David De Gea, Wayne Rooney for his energy and enthusiasm. Angel Di Maria, Adnan Januzaj, Marcos Rojo can probably only make it to the subs bench.
Did LVG inherit a bogus team with zero talent? LVG performed well at Ajax, Barcelona and Bayern Munich because of intelligent players and an outstanding pool of youth players. This is what is lacking in most English clubs especially Manchester United. SAF left United as a collapsing empire and what he had invested in as the future turned out to be frauds. Just look at how LVG has signed off most of the players touted the next big thing at Manchester United. Apart from Van Persie, I cannot remember a time when SAF went to the market to buy a proven player. He kept saying there is no value for money.
United fans keep on saying that SAF won the league with the same set of players. I totally agree. But other factors must be brought into focus. SAF won the title in 2013/14 because of mediocre opposition. Manchester City under Roberto Mancini was unravelling, Chelsea was having a managerial merry go round, Arsenal had just sold Robin Van Persie and was still smarting from such an obnoxious move and Liverpool were still adapting to the Brendan Rodgers philosophy. That explains how with fewer wins away, United won the title. This does not in any way pour cold water over SAF’s achievements but he contributed to what is happening now.
The injuries within the defence have not given LVG much cushion. But United’s defenders are as fragile like a baby panda egg. Phil Jones injures himself by recklessly flying into tackles; Johnny Evans is not only injury prone but error prone too and now faces a lengthy ban for his role in the spitting incident with Papiss Cisse at Newcastle. Chris Smalling is injury prone plus a poor decision maker. Antonio Valencia cannot even lift the ball off the ground to save his life. His runs are so predictable. For Rafael, I suspect LVG does not like his juvenile irrational decisions. He watched him get sent off in a UCL match when he was in charge at Bayern Munich. Recently against Leicester City; his defending was exposed as United shipped in 5 goals.
The strikers are either still on holiday or they have simply forgotten how to score. Robin van Persie is in such a poor form. Then the most expensive loanee in football history left his footballing skills on the beaches of Monaco. Falcao has been poor honestly. It is hard to defend him. He has been given chances and squandered them
Poor selection of players while he freezes others has been a constant accusation for LVG. Players like Rafael, Radamel Falcao, Juan Mata and to some extent Ander Herrera have been overlooked. As an experienced manager, there is something he sees in these players that does not fit into his style of play. While he freezes them, their replacements are much worse on the field. Valencia has been disastrous, Marouane Fellaini’s performances are a point of debate and Herrera has shown he is not a big match player.
Apart from Daley Blind and Victor Valdes, LVG is using a team assembled for him by SAF, David Moyes or Ed Woodward. Luke Shaw and Ander Herrera were Moyes’ wishlist; Di Maria and Falcao were Woodward’s signings to show the world that United can afford big name players.
Sacking him will not solve United’s crisis. He should build his own team. Mourinho struggled last season with someone’s team, this season he managed to get the players he wanted and look at the results.
I still believe he is the man to turn United’s fortunes around. Van’