By Adam Joseph
In Manchester United’s last thirty games, the team has registered eight games where they have had either one shot on target or none at all. That is a pathetically damning indictment of the Louis Van Gaal, which needs to end sooner rather than later.
The club embarrassed themselves in a dismal 2-0 loss to fierce rivals Liverpool, humiliating themselves not only in front of the footballing world (again) but did so against their fiercest rivals. It was never a contest and it has to be queried how Van Gaal could not even coax a performance out of his team in a game like this what chance does he have?
That question has been answered over and over this season, and it’s quite clear Van Gaal cannot do it. It is incredibly depressing to watch such an expensively assembled team fail to perform so consistently. The Dutchman is seemingly at his best when injuries deprive him of his go-to game plan and he’s forced to throw it out the window.
It is not working and hasn’t the majority of his tenure. His players fail to grasp his instructions and clearly do not believe in the way he has them playing. Despite the squad’s flaws, there’s far too much talent available for them to be playing this poorly so regular.
Fans and pundits alike expect the team to return to “normal” and play “the United way” at some point. It’s clear now that the reality is United are the body of their work, and that isn’t good. They are an inconsistent team who pass the ball to death and are very good at it, but ultimately struggle to create let alone score. When they can, they fail to be able to defend it. Teams are figuring them out and when they do, United have zero answer.
What’s scarier than their current predicament is what lies ahead. Drifting further into the footballing abyss, their falling behind teams who themselves are struggling. The Premier League is the most competitive in the world but this reputation is helped by the fact there aren’t any truly elite teams left in it.
Leicester City’s story is a truly incredible one, which goes without saying. Whether they can sustain it beyond this season when their workload increases heavily. Tottenham are a young, exciting team capitalising on the other clubs struggles. Arsenal and Manchester City meanwhile, can’t stop tripping over themselves trying to catch the front-runners.
Despite this, United still cannot catch them. Whether the blame lies with Van Gaal, the players or anybody else at the club is ultimately irrelevant because when it comes down to it the vast majority of the club have not been good enough for too long.
The ownership has shown over time that they have value money above all else, and this has been shown in the management of how they’ve handled the sackings of David Moyes and Van Gaal. First time around they waited until Moyes’ failures exercised a termination option in his contract, allowing a cheaper payout.
Now with Van Gaal it seems a similar situation is taking course. No matter how low the club stoops on field the board and the club itself sit silently. The players preach the same message; that they need to improve in the next game. But the next week brings the same performance and generally the same result. It has now gone on too long.
United’s current priorities resemble that of a business first with a company football team in place, and at this point that does not resemble hyperbole. If any normal person failed this much in their job they would have been sacked for basic incompetence by now.
For Van Gaal to say “you cannot say we have not improved” in yesterday’s press conference was a slap in the face to all supporters, from the hundreds of millions of fans currently having to watch performances from their televisions to those match going fans that literally have been put to sleep by what is on display at Old Trafford.
That being said, the players have a responsibility too and they have let their fans down time and again. It is depressing that after so much turnover that more must be shown the door this summer. Ed Woodward’s place at the club should have been in question long ago, and there is hope that a director of football will take away any footballing decisions from his incapable hands.
As of this week, Van Gaal has £10 million remaining on his contract. Considering the amount spent on players and wages nowadays, is that really too much for a club that is so commercially successful? Apparently not, it seems.
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.
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