It would seem as though Louis van Gaal will not be leaving Manchester United in the near future.
He will continue to dine on Chinese delicacies at Wings and hold press conferences at Carrington. He will continue to amuse, delight (occasionally), bemuse and annoy United fans for a while yet.
Why is this, I hear you ask? Well it is mainly because Ed Woodward appointed him and would be embarrassed to have to fire him. Some even suggest that, if van Gaal were fired, then Woodward would have to go as well.
Has his tenure really been that bad though? If we forget the David Moyes months which, believe it or not, actually make van Gaal look marginally worse at present, then he has not been that awful.
He took an ageing squad, (whatever Lord Ferg would have us believe), dismantled it piece by piece and shifted out quite a lot of deadwood. Some fans would argue that some of the wood wasn’t dead and others would say he shifted out too many players, particularly strikers. The point is, he did what he thought was best for the club.
He then brought in some new faces. Of the new arrivals, the standout names included Bastian Schweinsteiger and Morgan Schneiderlin, who were expected to form a decent partnership in midfield. Again, van Gaal had his critics. When you spend £258 million on players some people expect instant results. That was never going to happen because too many players had been bought and sold.
Possibly because of injuries to the likes of Luke Shaw, Phil Jones and Antonio Valencia, to name but three, van Gaal has become the new “Tinkerman” a title last bestowed on Claudio Ranieri many years ago when he was the manager of Chelsea.
He has been playing a few players out of their natural position and has been experimenting with formations. Fans have no objection to wingers playing as full backs and midfielders as centre backs when the team is winning. When the team doesn’t win it becomes a stick with which to beat the manager.
United supporters will be hoping that, during this transfer window, United can address the strikers position, if nothing else. The worry is that, with Martial and Rooney both scoring in the last game, van Gaal will think he no longer has a problem in that department.
The team currently sit fifth in the Premier League table and are yet to play in the FA Cup. They are out of the Capital One Cup and the Champion’s League. They are still in a position to win the domestic double. It would not be a major surprise to van Gaal supporters if United went on to win the double. They will point to times in his past when a season appeared to be going nowhere, only for a couple of trophies to be won by the end of it.
The players appear to have a decent relationship with the manager at United and, if the press is to be believed have held meetings to address the poor performances. If, as a result of these meetings, performances improve and results start to turn, then van Gaal should be praised for being open enough to accept it, not pilloried for trying to get things right.
United appear to be sticking with van Gaal until at least the end of the season. One reason for this is that, apart from Jose Mourinho who appears to be persona non grata, there is nobody else available. Guardiola will go to City, Ancelotti will go to Bayern so United and Chelsea will both either stick or twist and, if they twist, will fight over what is left.
Let us hope, by then, that van Gaal is leaving United having been successful and picked up a trophy, (or two).
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