This was the point when the patience of the fans finally snapped. Future generations will refer to the game against Norwich as Louis van Gaal’s ‘2-2 vs Fulham’ moment. He seemed to know it too. The overwhelming feeling is that it is when rather than if the manager is replaced.
Intriguing points have been made by Rio Ferdinand this week. He has stated the situation at Chelsea reminds him of the scenario David Moyes experienced at United two years ago. He added that the Chelsea players should bear the brunt of the responsibility for what is happening there.
Considering Rio was part of the dressing room that turned on Moyes, and is friends with at least one of Chelsea’s current starting eleven, his opinion could be particularly well-informed on this subject.
This all serves as a reminder of the dreadful state United were in when Louis van Gaal arrived 15 months ago. Has the Dutchman done enough during that time to keep his job? Probably he has.
The problem is that things seem to be taking a decidedly Moyesian turn as we reach the winter equinox. Not only the results but the performances have been abysmal over the past month. The people paying to attend matches are utterly fed up with it. Fair enough.
It would be naïve to think that sacking Louis van Gaal would immediately turn United into Barcelona. Whilst the Dutchman has his flaws, he has won everything that can be won in club football and should surely be able to deliver the goods at United.
A glance at Chelsea leaves me feeling deeply disconcerted. From the outside it looks like a group of players having a tantrum have ousted one of the best managers in history by deliberately playing badly.
If one were cynical, one might glance at United and say a group of quietly passive-aggressive players are underperforming because they don’t like the tactics of a manager with a lot of historical success.
My nearest and dearest have, of course, been discussing the idea of Jose Mourinho pitching up at Old Trafford in the near future.
Personally, I would take him. He is a fabulously talented coach who will now doubt have much more humility after this recent experience. He will also have strong desire to crush Chelsea.
That feels like a good combination to me.
The counter argument is that recent events highlight why we shouldn’t take him. He is a outrageous prima donna would dominate the narrative to an unreasonable extent. ‘It wouldn’t be very United’ they say.
Of the people I speak to, the division is almost exactly fifty fifty.
The number of people sticking up for Louis is getting closer to zero every minute though. The idea that he wouldn’t finish the season seemed preposterous at the start of October, but with Mourinho on the market, his margin for error decreased rapidly. And then the team posted another woeful performance.
All eyes now turn to Ed Woodward. If United put together the right run of results, they might be able to win the league title this year. Equally, they could finish seventh if things don’t improve.
Ed and Louis get on extremely well. The former investment banker would be reluctant to let Louis go. I can imagine he might even try and team Louis up with Jose to soften the blow.
If United don’t register drastic improvement before New Year’s though, Jose can expect a quiet phone call.
Things simply cannot go on like this for United.
Mark is the author of Fergie’s Last Stand, just £3 this Christmas.
Follow him on www.twitter.com/markjpayne