If it walks like a duck and it quacks like a duck…
Louis Van Gaal has had significant but skin deep success throughout his career. He’s won titles with clubs where second place is a catastrophic failure in any case. He did win the Champions League with Ajax but with an astonishingly talented squad.
When he arrived in the famed halls of Old Trafford, much was expected. Ed Woodward went as far as to hail him as a “genius”. But now as the curtain begins to come down on his wretched reign, the fans’ relationship with the Iron Tulip is caustic.
But for many, the author included, it’s not the results or even the painful-to-watch football that induces this disdain for the boss. It’s some of his inexplicable decisions, those decisions where it’s impossible to figure out his reasoning.
The most obvious of these centres around the antichrist to United style football. Of the 76,000 men, women and children who sit in the Theatre of Dreams every week, 75,999 know, without a shadow of a doubt that Marouane Fellaini is not United quality. I would personally argue he’s not even Premiership quality.
I have written at length about the Belgian’s countless shortcomings and yet week in, week out, he lumbers out in that famed strip; a strip associated with George Best, with Eric Cantona and with the Busby Babes. He’s simply not fit to wear it.
However, Van Gaal, in his infinite wisdom, sees him as ‘undroppable’.
It’s things like this which genuinely makes you question, and it’s hard to illustrate the fact that I’m not joking here, that the manager of the greatest club in the world is painfully inadequate and simply doesn’t understand football.
How he sees Fellaini being as dreadful as he always is and he praises him and publicly scorns the likes of Jesse Lingard, an inexperienced but often excellent player, boggles the mind.
The many number of fans he could win back by dropping Fellaini tomorrow is unquantifiable. When people see that number 27 raised by the fourth official and watch the Belgian trot on to the hallowed turf, it induces seething anger among the fans who simply cannot comprehend how he can even consider playing him.
From one who inexplicably always plays to one who never gets his game, much to the fans bewilderment. The shining light in these dark times on Sir Matt Busby Way comes in the form of a brilliant Basque. The diminutive Ander Hererra is, I would argue, the closest United have ever came to replacing Roy Keane.
He is such a techically gifted player, if he played every week, he could be one of the best midfielders in the world. His passing, shooting, dribbling, movement, vision, work rate, passion and tackling are all exceptional. He is damn close to the complete player. (Let’s get this clear Liverpool fans, James Milner is not the complete player, nor is Jordan Henderson).
And yet, Van Gaal, in his oh so infinite wisdom, will not play him, won’t even put him in the squad some days. It is simply unexplainable but not indescribable. Moronic, stupid, brainless and imbecilic are all fitting adjectives for this particular thought process.
One of the biggest rods for Van Gaal’s back is in the transfer window. But some of his incomings have been near masterstrokes. If only he played them.
Morgan Schneiderlin has quickly gone about making himself a fan favourite in Old Trafford. He’s a classy player in every sense of the word. He reads the game superbly, passes well, protects the defence and can go forward too. If you were to describe the perfect situation for a player like him, it was the closing 20 minutes against Chelsea.
The Blues wanted to pick up pockets of space in between defence and midfield and play a killer pass. He can, better than most players in the world, cut all that out. And yet he sat on the bench until very late on. By the way the goal had nothing to do with him and was only avoided by, oh I don’t know subbing the exhausted Cameron Borthwick-Jackson so he won’t play Costa onside but that’s just silly old me.
I mean, why buy Schneiderlin and not play him in that situation? Van Gaal simply doesn’t understand football if he doesn’t realise that the Frenchman must play in that circumstance.
Another of his acquisitions in the transfer window is his answer to John O’Shea. Daley Blind is jack of all trades, master of none. Yes, he is streets ahead of O’Shea but is possibly more redundant. Obviously talented and bright, yet he is a stop gap player across the pitch. This season, he’s managed to nail down a position at centre back. Until the Everton game this season, Blind had never not started a game he was available for under the Dutchman. When countless capable defenders were available in the Summer, Van Gaal neglected to invest.
The reason? Nepotism. Plain and simple. Either that or Van Gaal is just brainless. Either he plays Blind at all costs or he can’t understand the difference between a good and bad centre back. Hard to know which is more worrying.
The list of questions for Van Gaal goes on. Why sell Chicharito? Why not buy a centre half or a striker?Why would you never publicly support Memphis Depay just once? Why didn’t you drop Wayne Rooney sooner? What do you have against Andreas Pereira? Why put on a right back when we’re a goal down? Why jettison James Wilson? Why don’t you talk up Anthony Martial and David De Gea with every chance you get? Why not try a different formation? Why play two defensive midfielders at home to Middlesbrough or Sunderland? Why treat Victor Valdes as repulsively as you did? Why be so painfully inactive on the bench? Why be so arrogant? Why be so staggeringly delusional? Why not accept some blame, just once? Why do you never give the players some encouragement? Why not show some passion? Why pull the kind of fit you did at Newcastle? Why play a right winger at left back? Why preach about us having to learn your philosophy yet neglect to learn ours? Why play an untalented oaf every week? Why leave our best players on the bench?
Why don’t you just leave?