by LIAM RICHNER
Louis Van Gaal’s two year tenure at Manchester United is over. Despite a 51% win percentage, the third highest of all permanent United managers, the 64-year old has been relieved of his duties with just one year remaining on his contract, before he retires from football management.
Following the massive hype of his appointment in 2014, many fans have described the Dutchman’s tactics during his reign as both lacklustre and boring. The goals dried up, and the wins became more and more difficult to obtain.
But that didn’t stop United from returning to the motherland of Champions League football after a one-year hiatus.
This season though has been marred by the constant speculation, which arose as early as January, that Jose Mourinho was set to replace LVG this summer.
Despite an underwhelming fifth placed finish in the league, and an early exit from the Champions League, there was something to finally cheer about for the Old Trafford faithful. Their FA Cup final victory over Crystal Palace at Wembley last weekend was the club’s first piece of silverware since Sir Alex Ferguson’s final season back in 2013.
One thing that is inexcusable is the amount of money the Dutchman used to put this squad of players together. Over £250 million has been spent over the last two years, and it’s fair to say not all signings have performed as one would have hoped.
£60 million was spent two summers ago on the purchase of Angel Di Maria from Real Madrid. He only survived a single season before being shipped off to PSG in 2015.
Bastian Schweinsteiger is another big name to walk through the door at Old Trafford, only for him to endure an injury-hit maiden campaign.
Memphis Depay is another big money move from PSV Eindhoven which has failed to live up to expectations.
One thing I admired about LVG’s tenure was his trust in youth, with Jesse Lingard and Marcus Rashford the most notable youngsters to have broken into the first team. They add some spice and flair to this United team and both have arguably pulled United out of what could have been a bleaker situation.
Rashford’s seven goals helped them gain valuable victories in the league over Arsenal and rivals Manchester City, with Lingard scoring the winner at Wembley last Saturday.
The worry I have is whether Jose Mourinho, who is more than likely to succeed LVG, will just ignore the youth coming through at United and simply go for the big money transfers. That’s what he did at Chelsea, with Cesc Fabregas, Diego Costa and Willian just some examples of the Special One’s expensive transfer policy.
Will he just loan out players like Rashford and Lingard who in my opinion deserve a place in the first team next season?
One thing he will do is bring the feel good factor back to the red half of Manchester, and play the attacking, attractive football the fans expect of a United side. But will that mean they will be title contenders next season? Not in my opinion.
During his second spell in charge of Chelsea, he spent the first season finding a system that worked as well as mould a side that would go on to become a successful title winning team. This will be very similar to what he will probably do at Old Trafford.
Here is what the other Flat Back Four writers have had to say on the matter, and the imminent appointment of Jose Mourinho:
“I think circumstances have conspired against the Dutchman. Van Gaal had awful luck with injuries throughout his tenure and as a result, rarely named his strongest possible side. His style though is questionable. United scored just 49 goals this season- that quite simply isn’t enough. In football, the word Mourinho is a byword for trophies. Whether or not they arrive this coming season remains to be seen, but when he puts his stamp on the team, Manchester United will be very hard to stop.”
“In this cut throat business that is football, you have to be successful, and unfortunately for Van Gaal, his success came too late. With the amount of money that he spent on new transfers during his two seasons, United should have been challenging on all four fronts, but they never really got going in the title race and ultimately missed out on the Champions League for this coming season. It’s not a great shock to see him go, but I don’t think even he will be surprised with the decision.”
“When you look back at Louis Van Gaal’s tenure at United, you can only attribute it to failure. The Dutchman spent without much success. Granted he guided United to their first FA Cup triumph since 2004, but these days managers are not judged on Cup success. Missing out on the Champions League is not good enough for a club the size of Manchester United. To his credit he has managed to leave United with a bright future, with a lot of young talent scattered through their ranks. With the likes of Anthony Martial, Jesse Lingard, and unearthing a gem in Marcus Rashford their is some light at the end of the tunnel. Mourinho will need to find a way to blend the young talent in with some experienced signings. If reports are true, the flamboyant manager will have a war chest available to him to bring United back to the top where they belong. The only issue for United is they must be aware Mourinho has always guaranteed success in the short term, but never really stayed at a club for more than three years. But that might just be what United need right now.”
“Louis Van Gaal developed the youth players but then again he had too many first team players out injured. Mourinho will get rid of the dead wood and attract players that will have not played under Van Gaal.”