Thursday 29 October 2015

Frustrating and confusing progress under Van Gaal

One glance at the league table tells us that there's undoubted progress from last year- after 13 points from ten games last year we are seven points better off, going well in Europe and are only two points behind leaders Manchester City this time around.

Yet despite this, none of us know what Louis van Gaal's much feted and often talked about "philosophy" actually consists of and watching the team these days is a hugely frustrating affair.

We're well drilled, well organised and good in possession- not bad traits for any successful side, but, whilst it's not as bad as David Moyes (nothing could ever be that bad), not is it anywhere near the "attack, attack attack" mantra instilled by SAF and those before him. 

Surely United should be more than just efficient, disciplined and difficult to beat?

Van Gaal often talks about "not giving much away" in his interviews, epitomising his safe and risk averse approach to matches.
Ferguson never minded about clean sheets or watertight defences- or, if he did, he never said it.
His mantra was that if we conceded twice, that's OK as long as we scored three. 

There's no debating that the players respect and perform to their best for Van Gaal- and that the Dutchman is getting the results (after all, football is a results business)- but the style in which he is doing so is testing the patience of United's fans.

He has to get results as should he not, along with, shall we say his er, functional football, he'd surely be in trouble with the United board. 

Yet the most frustrating thing is that Van Gaal has shown that he can send the side out to play fluid, liquid, high tempo football- he did so in that golden six match winning run at the back end of last season and this glimpse into the SAF era has again been in evidence at Southampton and, the second half against Liverpool and at Everton this season. 

Therein lies the problem- Van Gaal only sets United up to play this well when he knows  functional football won't be enough against our rivals and the top sides in the division.

So why do we not play this way more often? The exciting brand of football that became our trademark is largely conspicuous by its absence and has become the exception, rather than the rule.

Attacking and entertaining football is in the very DNA of this club, but winning is all that matters and the majority of the fans will be happy as long as we're doing precisely that under LVG. 

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