By Adam Joseph
Another game, another draw. More possession and no goals. It’s a familiar story this season for Manchester United and fans are frustrated. Some are downright angry and that’s okay. The reality of the situation though – fixing the situation at the club was never going to happen overnight.
It’s very difficult at the moment, there’s no denying that. There was never going to be a smooth transition out of the Sir Alex Ferguson era. David Moyes proved that, and singlehandedly ripped apart any remaining legacy from his predecessor.
Louis Van Gaal was hired amongst serious fanfare. He’d just destroyed former World Champions Spain, and led the Dutch to an unexpected 3rd place finish with an average squad. So from the get go expectations were high.
18 months later and fans are not happy once again. They are tired of waiting and wish that attacking football and success would return to the club immediately. That is somewhat fair, for fans of the Old Trafford club have been spoiled by success for the last 20 years. For some success is all they’ve ever known.
However it’s worth remembering part of Van Gaal’s directive was meant to bring stability to the club above all else and get them back on track. He walked into a club in crisis from top to bottom, lost without the greatest manager to ever grace the Earth.
The Dutchman set about fixing things from top to bottom, adopting a meticulous approach across all areas of the club. Even players sleeping was monitored. Whilst the performances haven’t always pleased, there’s no doubting he has got the club back on it’s feet.
His transfer record isn’t spotless, with Ed Woodward driven signings Radamel Falcao and Angel Di Maria ushered out the door after only 12 months in Manchester. But Van Gaal has set about fixing long term problems on the pitch, and to his credit he has done that.
United’s defence is as strong as it’s been since the record setting days of Ferdinand, Vidic and Van Der Sar. David De Gea is not as heavily relied on as he was, with Chris Smalling coming of age this season and can now be considered a future club captain under the Dutchman’s tutelage.
The midfield now has class it hasn’t had in years. Whilst it struggles for pace and dynamism without the injured Ander Herrera, Morgan Schneiderlin and Bastian Schweinsteiger have added serious quality to the middle of the park. Rarely a game goes by where they don’t win the midfield battle.
However the problem on the pitch and for the fans, is in attack. There just isn’t the depth or quality to appease them game to game. Whilst goals have come in spurts, of late the team is sometimes having trouble hitting the target let alone the back of net.
Anthony Martial’s bright start has been followed with a bit of a dry spell, but he shouldn’t be expected to carry the frontline at 19 years old. Memphis is still adjusting like most new signings, and Wayne Rooney looks finished as an elite footballer more and more as each game goes by.
Van Gaal speaks so often of balance in his selection and his squad, and that seems to be his biggest struggle at the moment. But this is also understandable. With so much turnover combined with a promotion of youth, there was never going to be no speed bumps along the road to success.
The club has overseen a record amount of player turnover, with Woodward and Van Gaal overseeing the departure of deadwood players like Nani and Anderson who were vastly overpaid with little return.
New signings to replace them no matter how good always require an adjustment period. Very few don’t, even the best ones. Almost all that have arrived have experienced this. Some couldn’t understand Luke Shaw’s early struggles, but look at how well he was playing before his injury. It all takes time.
That doesn’t mean frustration isn’t entitled. Nobody wants to watch boring football, and it has been that at times. Unfortunately though it was never going to be easy post Sir Alex, and it’s time to let go of that. One point off the top of the table despite some poor performances is a reminder of the progress made under Van Gaal.
Van Gaal is doing the job he was hired to do, and it’s the clubs best interests to let that situation play out. It has worked out pretty well for Barcelona and Bayern Munich from the foundations he built there, after all.
Adam Joseph is a freelance writer from Melbourne, Australia. Manchester United fan from back when they were the only team on Australian TV and it was love at first sight. Manchester United, Oklahoma City Thunder, New England Patriots and Carlton Blues fanatic. If it’s sport related, I’ll talk about it.
Follow him on twitter @