A LOOK AT THE FATAL FLAWS IN VAN GAAL’S PHILOSOPHY
What is Louis van Gaal’s philosophy? Around 99.9% of us are still trying to figure it out. The Dutchman is one of the most successful managers in the modern era, having managed at the likes of Ajax, Barcelona and Bayern Munich in his illustrious career. There is very little doubt that, in European football at least, Van Gaal knows his stuff.
However, he has never managed in the Premier League before and his inexperience is beginning to show. He hasn’t done a terrible job since arriving at Old Trafford but his downright refusal to budge from a structured, restricted system is doing him no favours amongst the United faithful. For the most part of this season, the 13-time Premier League champions have been slow, boring and short of ideas.
Perhaps Van Gaal’s biggest mistake is Wayne Rooney. As captain, the United manager has almost allowed Rooney a ‘free pass’ into the starting line-up, even though he has been one of their worst performers this season. Even the most ardent Red has had to admit that, after 374 league appearances for the club, Rooney looks burnt out and is failing to inspire confidence as the focal point of United’s attack.
Van Gaal is a stern coach but is he a strong leader? Possibly, but the Dutchman doesn’t help himself when he sits on the bench and refuses to advance to the touchline except for the odd occasion. The United manager doesn’t make his presence felt, which was one of David Moyes’ worst traits during his brief era at the helm. Sir Alex Ferguson always dominated the touchline at Old Trafford, and United’s supporters may miss him now more than ever.
Simply put, United just don’t intimidate opposing sides anymore. The ‘fear factor’, which was considerably damaged during Moyes’ spell at Old Trafford, has vanished completely – despite United’s home record this season. People are now excited at the opportunity to face the Red Devils, whereas there was always an aura of fear ahead of fixtures against United. Van Gaal must learn to adapt his tactics for the occasion, rather than assuming his team are good enough to beat certain sides.
Traditionally, United have been one of the most exciting teams in England’s top flight. Under Van Gaal, however, they are incredibly tedious and build attacks incredibly slowly. In the Dutchman’s eyes, possession is sacred. On average, United have seen more of the ball than anybody else in the Premier League. However, only West Bromwich Albion and Sunderland have taken fewer shots from inside the box so far this season.
For English football fans, it is hard not to compare this United side to the Arsenal team that slipped into the wilderness after their “Invincibles” success in 2004. Yes, they dominate matches but are lacking that killer threat in attack. The main difference? United have that. Anthony Martial is, and will be, a top class striker but his role is being hindered drastically by an under-fire Rooney.
The sooner that Van Gaal bites the bullet and drops Rooney, the better – for Manchester United fans at least. Right now, the philosophy simply isn’t working. United have always played flowing, attacking football and have always placed emphasis on entertaining their supporters. Van Gaal’s current style will not bring trophies or exciting football to Old Trafford and it might be time for the Dutchman to go back to the drawing board with his famous philosophy.