Monday, 16 May 2016

Nowhere to hide for Van Gaal after top four failure

Should United win this final game it will mean we miss out on the top four on goal difference- an apt statistic for where we've so obviously failed this season.

We just haven't scored enough goals.

It's so damning on Louis van Gaal and his pragmatic approach.

In Sir Alex's final season at Old Trafford - 2012/13 - United scored 86 goals on our way to the title: it was 64 in the David Moyes season and 62 last time out in Van Gaal's first campaign in charge.

This season, the paucity is off the scale - just 46 goals in 37 league games, two fewer than Sunderland who only just stayed up and two more than a Newcastle side who sank into the Championship.

Strangely but almost understandably there was a large contingent of United fans who greeted the failure to reach the Champions League with some degree of relief because it may spell the end of Van Gaal at the club.

There was a fear that finishing in the top four would have been enough for him to stay on into the third year of his contract.

Imagine that: United fans actually pleased not to reach the Champions League - a ridiculous notion, but this is the Van Gaal effect.

Many Reds fans can barely remember feeling so detached from the club, so fed up and uninspired have we been by the dire fare so often served up this season.

There was always going be a lengthy period of adjustment and transition in the post-Ferguson years, but we were not prepared for such a departure from the club's attacking traditions and very ethos.

The season effectively ended in December: a winless run of eight games which included four consecutive defeats, the worst run since the 1989/90 campaign.

The FA Cup run and failures of others kept us alive long into 2016, but many fans had already given up on Van Gaal and wanted the season to end.

All hope had been extinguished: the narrative was that Van Gaal had failed and he has not been able to alter that. 

We did not appoint him to invest £100 million in new players to finish fourth and then fifth or even sixth.

Van Gaal's public utterances - and his attempts to justify these failures - have also become increasingly desperate and only served to open him up to further criticism and ridicule.

Moyes paid for his failure to reach the Champions League with his job, and it remains highly likely the same fate will befall Van Gaal after the Cup final.

In 1990, an FA Cup win was enough to save Ferguson's job but times they are a changing: United have since won 13 Premier League titles and expectations are vastly different.

He arrived at the club with a revived reputation but the last two years have seen him become yesterday's man and this is surely the final week of his Old Trafford tenure. 

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