Is Louis Van Gaal the Right Man to Lead Manchester United?

Updated: 15 January 2015 22:46 IST

After 21 games in the English Premier League 2014-15, United have the same number of points under Louis van Gaal as they did last season under David Moyes. So, has the Dutchman really made a difference at Old Trafford?

Is Louis Van Gaal the Right Man to Lead Manchester United?
Manchester United manager Louis Van Gaal © AP

Sunday's 1-0 loss to Southampton brought an end to Manchester United's 10-match unbeaten run stretching back to the first week of November 2014 and only their second loss at home this season since an opening day loss to Swansea City.

After 21 games in the English Premier League, United have the same number of points this season under Louis van Gaal as they did last season under David Moyes. So has the Dutchman really made a difference at Old Trafford?

When David Moyes was sacked in April last year, barely 10 months into a six-year contract, not many were surprised. True, he had huge shoes to fill and his foray into the transfer market was an absolute disaster, but he did inherit a squad that had been crowned Champions and somehow failed to get them going.

The only positives perhaps, from his ill-fated reign were getting Wayne Rooney to sign a long-term contract and giving Belgian youngster Adnan Januzaj a first-team place.

However, to manage an illustrious club like United, you have to be made of a very special piece of cloth and Moyes just wasn't cut out for it.

His achievements in his 11 years as Everton manager were absolutely fantastic for a club that did not have the money power of the likes of United, Chelsea or Manchester City. But that's it. Not once in those 11 season's did the Toffees ever challenge for the title and the closest they came to winning silverware was an FA Cup runners-up medal in 2009.

And while he won't upstage Barcelona, Real Madrid or Atletico Madrid in Spain, he will do well in his new assignment with Real Sociedad.

One must remember that when Sir Alex Ferguson arrived at Old Trafford in November 1986, he'd already shown his mettle up North in Scotland when breaking the dominance of both Glasgow Rangers and Glasgow Celtic in his eight years at Aberdeen.

While it took him four years to win his first trophy, he did help Manchester United fill their trophy cabinet with 13 Premier League, five FA Cup and two UEFA Champions League titles.

Perhaps, the first choice as United Manager in the aftermath of Sir Alex Ferguson's retirement should have been Carlo Ancelotti.

One, because he proved himself in his time at AC Milan with 8 trophies including two UEFA Champions League titles and two, having won the double in his first season as Chelsea boss, he knew how to manage English teams.

Louis van Gaal has been a top-flight manager for over two decades and I still remember his young Ajax side from the early 1990s putting the much-fancied AC Milan to the sword in the 1995 UEFA Champions League final.

His achievements in Holland meant a big job was always around the corner and when Barcelona came calling, few managers would have said no.

But his time at the Nou Camp will be remembered more for his falling out with Brazilian Superstar Rivaldo and the Catalan Press rather than the four trophies he won in three seasons.

A second spell at Barcelona in early 2000 wasn't as successful as his first spell, but he did give the likes of Carles Puyol, Victor Valdes, Xavi Hernandez and Andres Iniesta the opportunity to stake a claim for first team places.

The same can be said for his two-year stint as Bayern Munich coach where he won three trophies in his first season and promoted the likes of Thomas Muller and Holger Badstuber. But a falling out with Luca Toni and the club hierarchy saw him being sacked in April 2011.

For many van Gaal seemed to have restored his reputation after Holland's 3rd place showing at the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil where his tactics and out of the box thinking won him and his side many fans.

But coming back to van Gaal at United, injuries have denied him the chance to play the same XI in consecutive matches with 13 different combinations at center-back alone and his tactical system of playing a 5-3-2 is not what Manchester United were brought up on.

But his side do currently sit in 4th place (The Final UEFA Champions League Spot) which is the bare minimum that's been asked of him by both the Glazer family, who own the club, and CEO Ed Woodward.

However, at no point since the season kicked-off have they looked like genuine title contenders and it took a first away win of the season on 22nd November for them to climb into the top 4, something they hadn't done since August of the previous season.

Given a blank cheque book in the summer, Van Gaal went out and spent almost 150 million pounds on bringing in the likes of Ander Herrera, Luke Shaw, Daley Blind, Marcos Rojo and Angel di Maria. Not too forget the 265,000 pounds a week Radamel Falcao is earning, who's somehow yet to show the goal scoring form from his time at FC Porto and Atletico Madrid.

So just how different are Louis van Gaal's United from David Moyes' United.

At this point there seems no real difference except that now they are in 4th place while in January last year they were 7th. However in Moyes' case he did have to negotiate his side out of the Group Stages of the UEFA Champions League and saw them reach the last 4 of the League Cup, a tournament Van Gaal exited in the 3rd round itself.

However, the Dutchman seems to have compensated for Moyes' exit from the 3rd round of the FA Cup with a 4th round tie against Cambridge United.

When Sir Alex Ferguson began the FA Cup in 1990 with a tricky tie away to Nottingham Forrest, many felt a loss would seal his time as manager.

But as fate had it, he won the trophy and the rest as they say is history. With the Premier League title very much out of grasp, it seems the FA Cup trophy is the only realistic piece of silverware United can aim for this season.

And if van Gaal can bring home after a gap of 11 years the oldest Cup competition in the World, then he could just be the right man for Manchester United.

Topics : Manchester United Football
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