Monday, 21 December 2015

Van Gaal needs to throw off the shackles and get back on track

It is close to reaching a situation at United where it has to be change the manager or change the philosophy.

Many more negative results and it may be a case of both. 

It cannot go on like this for much longer, and especially if our chances of finishing in the top four become under threat.
Six games without a win is just about tolerable at any big club if those results are accompanied by performances that were unfortunate rather than poor - with a huge slice of luck, injuries and bad refereeing decisions.

The problem for Van Gaal is that largely this has not been the case. 
Injuries hit and have had an effect but not to the point that they have become a serious mitigation.

There is an air of mutiny from the supporters at Old Trafford but that is driven more through disappointment and frustration than any great dislike of Van Gaal, although resentment is growing.

The fans appreciate that it is an embarrassment for a club of United's stature and history to discard two managers within three years of Sir Alex's retirement.
But there are serious problems.

There was always going to be a drop off after Ferguson left, it was the end for several players and not just the manager, but not to this extent.

United's standpoint has been clear but is being tested: we want to stick with Van Gaal, who has 18 months left on his three-year contract.
United have claimed he has impressed with the way in which he has organised the club, the structural work he has done behind the scenes and- or so we thought- the progress on the pitch.

But there is an indisputable conflict.

David Moyes was sacked not just because of poor results but because the club felt there was betrayal of the way the team were expected to play.
There were few swashbuckling performances but the majority were out of keeping with the club's "DNA."

If that argument was legitimate, then Van Gaal is guilty of the same failings, having sacrificed attacking intent and flair for a defensive organisation that has been successful to a degree but also stultifying.

When that organisation is breached, there is little left for us to fall back on.

And of course we have spent money, a lot of money. 

But the return so far has been the bare minimum - the sense is growing that many of those millions have been wasted.

But the question is: how much longer can Van Gaal be given.
He looked a chastened man after the Norwich match, and that means it will go one of two ways.

Either he is broken, the damage is irreparable and it's only a matter of time, or he can react positively by in part looking to try and play a different way.

He must try and throw off the shackles as the philosophy he has often spoken about- without every really explaining what it is- is not working.

United certainly have a new identity under Van Gaal, but surely not one they want. 

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