Andy Dawber from @wefollowunited on why the loss of Louis’ presence would be United’s biggest present.

This is a time of year for reflection. We look back upon our triumphs and tribulations and we learn how to move forward, how to progress. On reflection, it seems that moving forward and progress have been two key components missing from Manchester United’s year.

Times have changed rapidly around Old Trafford. On November 12th, I wrote an article for The Daisy Cutter, suggesting Van Gaal could benefit from more time and that if we gave him that time, he would sow the seeds that would allow the next manager to reap the rewards of a successful trophy harvest. But the world of football spins on a completely different axis, and for Van Gaal winter has come far sooner than he or the hierarchy at United could have ever anticipated. What has led to such a seismic shift in such a short period? For me, there are 3 overwhelming factors.

Results. United came back from the International break to a crucial Christmas schedule, including 5 ‘winnable’ league games that could put us top at Christmas, and 2 attempts at a ‘must-win’ Champions League game to cement our place in the knock out stages. After scraping a 2-1 away win against an unlucky Watford, United have gone winless in their last 6 games in all competition. Out of gas, excuses & Europe at the Volkswagen arena and languishing 5th in the league, 9 points behind Leicester, Manchester United’s winning habit has gone cold turkey and Louis Van Gaal has been left to talk turkey with Woodward.

Squad depth. Having mentioned turkey, it seems right to discuss the scraps Louis Van Gaal has left himself to pick a team from. The majority of fans completely backed United’s rather cut throat & furniture shop style never ending summer sale. However, most fans saw it as a reinvestment opportunity, a chance to build a fresh squad to replace the tired and misfiring players Van Gaal had inherited. To end up with the likes of Borthwick-Jackson, McNair, Varela & Lingard playing through necessity, misrepresented as blooding youth and to see Anthony Martial as our only currently viable centre forward is testament to Van Gaal’s failure and inability to work with a sufficient squad size.

Managers available. This is the key that turned the lock. There had been an acceptance from many that Van Gaal would be given until the summer to solidify United’s top 4 ambitions and if he had failed to reinstate the entertaining elements in the style of play, the Glazers & Woodward would consider which managerial targets were available before deciding if to allow Van Gaal to see out the final year of his contract and career. A sudden change in the landscape saw a trio of world class managers: Guardiola, Ancelotti & Mourinho all become available over a matter of weeks. These days do not come around often and despite a lack of world class managers in the game, United’s delay has already cost them 1 of their targets in Ancelotti & with rumours of Guardiola going to fierce rivals Manchester City & Madrid tapping up Mourinho, the time to act is now.

Tidings of comfort and joy are likely in short supply for LVG during this festive time, with the heat on him rising higher than his Christmas dinner. Failure to beat Stoke on Boxing Day could lead to New Year’s revolution at Old Trafford, so if Van Gaal can’t take the heat, he’ll soon be out the kitchen.

On the first day after Christmas, United need to see, Van Gaal beat Stoke City.

Best wishes to you all over Christmas and New Year, thanks for reading.