Manchester United’s union with Louis van Gaal is chaffing its way towards an inevitable separation at the end of the season. The relationship between the fans and the manager is no longer tenable. So much so that almost nobody turned up to watch the team beat Crystal Palace 2-0 at Old Trafford on Wednesday evening.
The sad thing is that it’s almost not about the football anymore. The joy has been sucked out of the whole process. Goals from Marcus Rashford and cut-ins from Anthony Martial should keep me coming back with a spring in my step. It would appear I am far from alone in being fed up with it though.
Louis van Gaal’s logic is more than the heart can bear. I can see all of the positive arguments laid there before me. He has started youth players, he has a track record of success, continuity is the best option. All of these things make perfect sense. But I know that his reign must end.
Here are a few things that happen in the average month of Manchester United at the moment:
All major news outlets spend the week discussing who will be the next United manager. At some points Jose Mourinho is a nailed on certainty, at others he has no chance because of blocking from Sir Alex Ferguson.
The team pick up a couple of uninspiring wins. In January these were against Swansea and Sheffield United, in February it was Stoke and FC Midtjylland. In March and April, Watford, Manchester City, Everton and Aston Villa were beaten. Most of these victories were by a one nil scoreline and about as much fun as a tax return.
Then, all major news outlets spend the week discussing who will be the next United manager. Perhaps the idea of a Ryan Giggs and Sir Alex dream team is mooted, despite the fact that Giggs is under-qualified and his best mate Gary Neville has just fallen flat in his first managerial job.
United might play well for about twenty minutes in one game. A small period against Liverpool saws shoots of hope spring up. The victory over Midtjylland even featured a decent performance from Memphis Depay, more recently United looked good against West Ham. But these shiny moments emerge so infrequently they can’t be trusted.
All major news outlets spend the week discussing who will be the next United manager. Why not Mauricio Pochettino? After all, Tottenham are looking like a football team of merit for once. Why can’t Ed Woodward steal their toys?
This process then concludes with a soul-crushing defeat just as things were about to get better. The match at White Hart Lane showed United fans just how far away the current team are. Losses to Midtjylland, Southampton and Sunderland hinted at this, but now we know how much trouble the club is in.
This little dance is concluded by all major news outlets spending the week discussing who will be the next United manager. You know the rest.
The expectations of the fans have dropped more in the last six months than perhaps they rose in the previous twenty-five years. With Jurgen Klopp reviving Liverpool impressively and Pep Guardiola pitching up across town in a couple of months, things feel bleak.
None of this is news anymore though, because this month looks exactly like the last one. This is the world Louis van Gaal style. The end of the season and his reign cannot come quick enough for some.
When turning up to games is a burden, then following a football team becomes a pointless exercise. The time for change has come.
Mark is the author of Fergie’s Last Stand, just £4 this April
Follow him on www.twitter.com/markjpayne