by Andrew Dawber (of the Red Devil Chronicle – @wefollowunited)
To enjoy the fruits of Louis’ labour, the fruit must be left to ripen.
Although Louis Van Gaal isn’t under this sort of pressure yet, criticism has been levelled at LVG recently due the team’s style of play. It appears twenty years of success and trophies may have spoilt expectations from the fans of the infamous ‘United way’. Long forgotten is the 1 win in 5 that left us in 7th at the end of November ’96, the 3 seasons without a league title and those boring games like the 2011 Carling Cup quarter final against Crystal Palace at Old Trafford. And why are these forgotten? Because they’re small blots on a huge beautiful picture of Man United’s history.
Football has evolved in the modern day that does not allow for this rebuilding time anymore, but fans must accept that Louis Van Gaal has a rich tradition of building foundations for future long term success of a club and this is his final and most challenging rebuild yet. With the clock ticking towards his retirement, at times it may appear Van Gaal has stepped away from his principles, instead looking for instant gratification for both his legacy and for the fans. However, when you delve deeper, you see there are still signs to suggest Louis will leave United in a very strong position going forward. And some of those things implemented may give Van Gaal the extra time with the fans that he desperately needs.
The promotion of youth has always be a hallmark of the Louis Van Gaal way. A list of top drawer players have LVG to thank for their opportunity to prove their talent including the likes of Robben, Muller, Xavi, Iniesta, Puyol, Edwin Van Der Saar and so on. There are signs of this continued investment in youth taking shape at Old Trafford too, with Jesse Lingard playing an increasingly important role for the first team, along with Andreas Pereira regularly part of the match day squad, Borthwick-Jackson being given his debut and even shows within the transfer policy in signing 19 year old Anthony Martial. More prominent use of Pereira, along with the introduction of future stars like Axel Tuanzebe and Timothy Fosu Mensah could buy Van Gaal time from the fans to work on improving the rest of the team. Bringing in other creative sparks like fan favourite Ander Herrera would do his popularity no harm either.
Further to this, Van Gaal has an excellent opportunity to push his project forward in January with the reopening of the transfer window. A few smart signings could really give the current United side a boost of energy and talent that could move them closer towards the Premier League crown. After the clever but ruthless removal of deadwood from the squad, it also gives LVG a chance to bring back some squad depth that has been sadly lacking from certain areas, namely everywhere but between the sticks and round the middle! It is rumoured that United are after a ‘speedy’ winger, which could be a significant piece of the jigsaw and there are options a plenty both on and off shore in Mane, Mahrez, Musa and even Bale and Ronaldo being dragged up again (in the words of Van Gaal: ‘Can you believe it? No Louis, we can’t).
Between the problems of slow, boring football and a run of below par performances and results in recent weeks, there are clear positives to give fans confidence. I believe the 20 minute Arsenal demolition made Van Gaal withdraw tactically and made him decide United should build from the back first and look for flair later. United have only conceded 1 goal in all competition in the 7 games since Arsenal, compared to 8 in the 7 games leading up to it. If Van Gaal can sure up a leaky defence to that level so quickly, can he not be trusted to introduce a more fluid form of attack over a short period of time when he feels it right? Man United scored 16 goals in the 7 games before the fixture at the Emirates. Teams do not forget how to score overnight, it seems a deliberate ploy from Van Gaal.
With the project Van Gaal has been left to work with though, patience should be exercised. He inherited a tired, confidence deprived squad that had finished 7th in the league the previous season and passed his first goal of getting United back into Europe in his first season. Although I am of the belief that Manchester United won’t win a major trophy under Van Gaal, I am adamant that United will continue to progress to the stage where the next manager taking over from him will have much better knowledge of where the teams needs to go to push that one step further.
What are your thoughts on Van Gaal? Should fans give him time? Be sure to get in touch and let us know.