Since the arrival of Louis van Gaal, the Dutchman has changed the look of Manchester United. Many fans are unhappy by this new philosophy in the red side of Manchester, and who can blame them. Having witnessed the brilliance of Sir Alex Ferguson for many years, with United producing exhilarating football under him. The attacking style of play that was shown in his era made United one of the most feared teams around, not just in England, but on the planet.
Much has changed since the success under Ferguson, with managers such as David Moyes and even Ryan Giggs coming into the picture. Moyes barely lasted a season at the club, where the Red Devils finished a demoralising 7th in the Premier League. Giggs only temporally came in, with the new manager destined for the start of the 2014-15 campaign. The job was given to van Gaal, a highly respected manager who has managed teams such as Ajax, Barcelona and Bayern Munich in the past. Having just taken the Netherlands to a World Cup semi-final a month prior to this, everyone involved with the club was understandably intrigued and excited by the prospects of what might come.
Despite his first season at Old Trafford being an improvement from the previous year, fans were still left frustrated by the 4th placed finish. He was seen as doing the bare minimum of achieving Champions League football, which proved to be a calamity in the end after United fell at the first hurdle, crashing out in the group stages. The main reason behind the fans annoyance was the style of play that has been brought to the club by van Gaal. Opting for a more defensive approach, United have now moved away from the fast-flowing, attack minded football, to a more cautious view on the game.
People feel disappointed when watching United, who were once a dominant force in the English game. Old Trafford is full to the rafters every two weeks, as around 70,000 fans gather to cheer on their team, but do they really want to continue to attend if they are to pay a huge amount of money to be left down hearted, maybe not at the result, but at the performance of the Reds. However, if their team are under performing but achieving results, then is there really much to be concerned about?
They miss the grace of Eric Cantona, the blinding passes of Paul Scholes and the trickery of Cristiano Ronaldo, which is all fantastic to watch, but being the second best team involving clean sheets in the league this far shows how far they have come on the defensive side of the pitch. In the Fergie era, United would maybe concede one or two goals, but score three or four in reply. The team we see today is hugely reliant on a strong defensive display, whilst up at the other end is hard to see a spark. Players such as David De Gea and Chris Smalling have vastly improved over the years they have been at the club, putting on great performances. These two players provide solid evidence for there teams clean sheet record this campaign.
I understand that losses against teams such as newly promoted Bournemouth generates a cause for concern, but they are still in contention for place in the top four. I believe that the fans at United are too judgemental, almost expecting instant success when a new manager comes in. This takes time to unfold, with changes at any club looking set to be made on an arrival. Signings such as Angel Di Maria and Radamel Falcao have engrossed fans in excitement, but have failed to deliver. Those two high profile players have moved on, whilst the more ‘low key’ buys of Ander Herrera and Daley Blind have given a more positive impression at the club. Anthony Martial, a teenager from France was brought in during the month of September last year, at an astonishing price tag that could cost United up to £60m, made instant impact when he came on as a substitute to score against Liverpool on his debut. Another youngster by the name of Marcus Rashford has also created a sense of optimism amongst fans, scoring crucial goals to win his side games, including becoming the youngest ever player to score in a Manchester Derby at the age of 18, to win the game against Man City at the Etihad Stadium.
The captain of the side Wayne Rooney is currently out injured, so this has given the likes of Martial and Rashford to excel at the front of United’s attack. A World Cup winner in Bastian Schweinsteiger has also been brought in for this season, but again like Rooney has been halted by injury. They both provide a huge amount of experience at this level, with them being over the age of 30. The future does look bright for United, with Memphis Depay adding to the list of youth in the side, with him being purchased from PSV Eindhoven last summer.
Fans shouldn’t worry too much about the performances at the moment and the players at the club, as they possess lot’s of potential for the years to come. Promising times are surely set for United, and for the time being they should only be wary of earning the right to play amongst Europe’s elite. Challenges for the title should be washed aside for the time being, with van Gaal set to have one more season at the club, providing that he sees through his contract.
Many people do feel as though LVG is coming to his second and last season in Manchester, and will retire after a departure from the club, but I truly believe that he has a lot more to offer at this huge name of a side. I hope he is given more time to produce a shot at the title next season, but with the likes of Jose Mourinho in strong contention to take over next season, I very much doubt the Dutchman will continue to manage at United.
Written by Joe Dutton.
Sources: BBC Sport, Bleacher Report and Caught Offside