For Louis Van Gaal, times at Manchester United have often been tough.
His relationship with the media has at best been strained, his relationship with the fans hasn’t been much better and unless he wins the FA Cup, it will be three seasons without a trophy since the doomed David Moyes era of 2013/14.
However, despite spending upwards of £250m, some of the blame placed on the Dutchman is somewhat harsh.
Yes, he bought in world class players that failed to adjust, such as Angel Di Maria, who was bought from Real Madrid for £60 million, then flogged to PSG a year later for £45 million.
Bastian Schweinsteiger, a world cup winner no less, has also had a debut season that hasn’t lived up to expectations, although since joining from Bayern Munich, he has been interrupted by injuries.
It would not be right to say that injuries have been the only factor in the lack of success at Old Trafford, especially for a man who guided Holland to third place in the last World Cup.
While the often-questioned style he has played has not fared too badly against teams such as Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester City – a team he hasn’t lost to in the last three matches, it is results such as a 2-1 home defeat to relegation-threatened Norwich City that show where the problems have been for United under Van Gaal.
In general, United haven’t created anywhere near as many chances since Ferguson’s swashbuckling era ended, something which has been the source of as much angst among the United as the lack of silverware since the Scot left.
The mood has not been helped by the fact that there have been 13 goalless first halves in the league at the Theatre of Dreams in the league this season.
Van Gaal has been nothing if not stubborn when facing questions about a methodical, possession-based style that has seen a lot of teams go to Old Trafford and simply sit deep and nick a result. It’s worked on certain occasions, such as that defeat to Norwich and a home goalless draw with Newcastle.
But why shouldn’t he be? He’s won trophies everywhere he’s been up until now using that now infamous philosophy. That record includes achieving silverware at Barcelona, Bayern Munich, AZ Alkmaar and Ajax.
Quite a list.
The biggest statistic going in Van Gaal’s favour is that in the two years he’s been at Manchester United, he’s given 13 debuts to youth academy products.
While United have always been strong at bringing through players through their academy, that tells its own story.
He’s seldom been able to name his strongest starting XI in the time he’s been at the club, with his defence especially often being left threadbare this season as square pegs have had to go in round holes.
The pressures of the modern football fan have not helped him in the slightest, as supporters from all corners of the globe thanks to the Premier League crave instant success, and anyone who doesn’t provide a trophy in the first season is deemed a failure.
That wasn’t a pressure that was faced by Sir Alex, who took four years to win a trophy after he joined in 1986.
It’s wrong to suggest that anyone would have his level of success, but it’s equally worth remembering that he more than repaid that patience.