30 reasons why it would be madness to retain Van Gaal

April 7, 2016 Tags: Reads 61 comments
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So, Louis van Gaal has been told that he will see out the third year of his Manchester United contract – at least according to Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf, which reports that talk of José Mourinho joining the club is wide of the mark. If true, Van Gaal will still be in post come August; news few United fans wanted to hear. After all, the veteran coach is six games from a second disastrous Premier League season, whether United qualifies for the Champions League or not. Rant has little stomach for a third season of football under the Dutchman – and 30 reasons why he should be awarded the Order of the Boot forthwith.

It’s the results, stupid
Sure, the Dutchman took over a team that had finished seventh the season before, but also one that was league champions just 24 months before. His squad needed an overhaul and he has been provided the funds to do so. In return United scraped into last season’s top four and may, or may not, make it this year. The dip post- Sir Alex Ferguson is one thing, but Van Gaal’s team has been out-performed by Leicester City, Tottenham Hotspur and, at times, West Ham United, this season. It puts the Dutchman’s performance in some context. Then there are the cups, with little impression made on Champions League, Europa League, FA Cup or League Cup. United’s replay at West Ham next week is the last chance at silverware this season. It is not good enough by some stretch.

The mind-numbingly uninspiring football
Let’s face it, not since Dave Sexton patrolled the Old Trafford sidelines has the football been quite this dull. Van Gaal’s process-driven approach has sucked the creativity out of United. Long gone are the days when Ferguson would send his team out with little more tactical instruction than “enjoy it” and “lads, it’s Spurs.” Today, classroom lectures on the polynomial regression of inverted full-backs begin on a Tuesday, ending sometime Saturday morning. The result is football that sells the benefits of watching paint dry. No thanks, and no thanks again.

Restricting players’ freedoms
The tendency towards conservatism, the insistence on over-analysis, the fury when instructions are ignored or forgotten; Van Gaal has little interest in individual talent beyond the team ethic. It might be a good philosophy in a team sport, bar the metronomic football that it has produced. Talented players are reigned in, their joy limited. Van Gaal truly sees the world in black and white – and will continue to do so.

Marouane Fellaini in midfield – or anywhere
In what scenario does doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result ever make work? It is the enigma wrapped in a riddle that is Van Gaal’s use of Fellaini in midfield. The Belgian can neither attack nor defend, boasts a first touch of agricultural nomenclature, possesses no range of passing, and has a shocking lack of discipline. Indeed, Fellani’s two greatest qualities are his left and right elbows. Strange player and never one of suitable quality for United; an expensive and embarrassing mistake. Yet, Fellaini appears in Van Gaal’s team too often when fit. Or not fit as it now turns out. It. Makes. No. Sense. Never again.

Rooney, Rooney, Rooney
For that matter why should Wayne Rooney continue to enjoy the “special privileges” of being United captain?  With just seven goals in the Premier League this season, Rooney’s performance has consistently remained on the wrong side of underwhelming. In fact of Rooney’s 13 goals in all competitions this season, just three have come against teams in the top half of the Premier League, while the player’s performances have declined year-on-year for the past three seasons. Worse still, Rooney has become a disruption to the team. First, Rooney shunted Anthony Martial out of his role as United’s number nine, and then Juan Mata from number 10. When the Scouser returns to fitness later this month, he’ll disrupt the attacking unit once again. All eyes on the Chinese Super League for an ‘out’ that will suit all parties this summer.

Wayne Rooney

Captain marvel? Wayne Rooney has scored seven Premier League goals

The choice of captain
Hookers. Grannies. Smoking. Drinking. Stealing. Transfer requests. Screaming at your team-mates. Leading by, er, example. No, it wasn’t a great choice. Then there’s that interview technique: erm, ugh, yeah, erm, hopefully, erm, ugh, take each game as it comes, erm, ugh. Try that in Mandarin, Wayne. Please. And take Louis with you.

Square pegs in round holes
Count the number in United’s last match against Everton: Marcos Rojo, a natural centre-back; Daley Blind, a natural left-back; Jess Lingard, a natural winger; Juan Mata, a natural number 10; Anthony Martial, a natural number nine. Positional flexibility is one thing, but almost all of the 93 games that Van Gaal has been in charge has featured players in roles that are sometimes not comfortable, and often not ideal. Angel di Maria is the prime example of a player so frazzled by the policy that he became the world’s first homeopathic player – diluted to the point that none of the original was left in existence. Di Maria played in five different positions during his 27 games for the club.

Juan Mata on the right wing
Talking of which, when you posses a world-class creative player, why ask them to spend so much time on the periphery of the game? True, some of Mata’s worst performances have come at 10, and some of his best on the right, but as a rule, Mata creates more from areas where he can dictate play. Yet, Van Gaal’s essential MO has little to do with creativity – even attacking selections are made on the basis of structure and defensive contribution. With Rooney injured – a very poor number 10 in any case – Van Gaal has turned to Lingard, a young player better off-the-ball than he is on it. A third year of this? No thanks!

The Plan B
Launch it at Fellaini. Or switch to a three-man central defence. Or substitute a full-back. Or two full-backs. Maybe switch the full-backs around for no particular reason. Or substitute a defensive midfielder. You get the picture. For all Van Gaal’s tactical renown, the Dutchman’s in-game management is shockingly poor. And it always tends towards the conservative. Picture the scenario: United, desperate for a goal in the final game of the season – one that would secure Champions League football – leaves Van Gaal with little choice but to throw caution to the wind and send on a striker. Yet, the Dutchman is just as likely to pull off Martial for Antonio Valencia at full-back. It is and remains infuriating.

The lack of a Plan B
See above. Strategy, what strategy.

Louis van Gaal

Headache: Louis van Gaal

The lack of tactical consistency
3-5-2. 4-4-2. 4-4-2 diamond. 4-2-3-1. 4-3-1-2. 4-3-2-1. 4-3-3. 4-1-4-1. 4-5-1. No, not Van Gaal’s telephone number, nor the winning Lotto ticket this Saturday, but a range of formations that the Dutchman has used during his time at United. Flexibility is one thing; a total lack of certainty about the system is quite another. Almost two years into Van Gaal’s regime and only now is there a flicker of light, with players beginning to understand ‘the philosophy’ and the Dutchman sending his team out with a recognisable strategy. So, anyone for a three man defence at White Hart Lane this weekend? Exactly.

The overly-clever Plan A
There are times in which Van Gaal gives the impression of supreme arrogance. Not just that he knows more than anybody else, especially pundits and supporters, but that it is imperative to prove it. The bizarre tactical changes, incessant tinkering, and use of players out of their natural position – it is a pattern repeated ad infinitum under the Dutchman. Van Gaal’s decision to deploy Mata wide and Lingard inside against Liverpool, with the Merseysiders starting the ponderous James Milner at left-back, reeked of the ‘overly clever plan.’ The trouble, as always, was the Dutchman’s inability to switch to an effective plan B when it became clear his strategy had failed. No more.

Adnan  Januzaj, James Wilson and Andrea Pereira
True, Van Gaal has proffered opportunities to a number of young players this season, although his long-term post injury crisis commitment is still an open question. After all, when Rooney returns, Lingard or Rashford may well be out. Cameron Borthwick-Jackson or Marcos Rojo in a crucial tie? It’s going to be the mediocre Argentinian, isn’t it. Then there’s Januzaj, Wilson and Pereira – a trio of highly talented academy graduates to whom Van Gaal has offered so little time. There have, variously, been accusations of limited development and poor attitude – but that is for the manager to fix – and it isn’t done by ostracising genuine talent. Just two years ago there were credible efforts made by PSG to sign Januzaj – at upwards of £25 million. Today, he’ll be (un)lucky to play under Van Gaal ever again. If the Dutchman remains the trio leaves.

The transfer market 
Van Gaal doesn’t make all the decisions of course, but without a Director of Football, his remains the loudest voice at Old Trafford. The successes are so few over the past two years. The hits that Van Gaal has enjoyed are either by accident, or not of his design: Ander Herrera, Anthony Martial and Luke Shaw, for example. Elsewhere, players on which he signed off have hardly been major successes: Victor Valdes, Daley Blind, Morgan Schneiderlin, Matteo Darmian, Bastian Schweinsteiger.

Morgan Schneilderlin, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Matteo Darmian

Partial success: Morgan Schneilderlin, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Matteo Darmian

Who he hasn’t played
Talking of Herrera, what exactly is Van Gaal’s problem? The Spaniard is certainly no imposter when it comes to promoting dynamic, quick and inventive passing – three qualities that United has lacked so often over the past two  years. Yet, the Dutchman appears to not fully trust the former Atletico Bilbao midfielder. Herrera has made 46 starts over two campaigns under Van Gaal, and come off the bench on a further 19 occasions. Yet, when Herrera does start it is not always in roles that bring out the best in the 26-year-old. Herrera has played 10 times at number 10 this season, and just twice a little deeper at eight. Yet, by far the Spaniard’s most effective performances have come in a deeper role, and there were far more of those last season than this.

The unnecessarily thin squad
United’s small squad, said Van Gaal, was a decision made to promote opportunities for younger players. Sounds credible, until the list of youngsters dumped after only a few games is examined. Van Gaal’s rush to youth has been a factor of injury and desperation and not strategy. Instead, the small squad and an intensive training regimen that has relented not one bit despite the brutal Premier League pace, has subjected United’s youngsters to exposure in the worst possible circumstances. It was unnecessary given United’s commitments this season in four competitions – a poor strategy, poorly executed.

Selling Javier Hernández and Danny Welbeck
It is true that neither Welbeck nor Hernández made the kind of impact at Old Trafford that ensures regular first team football. And yet, at times this season, with United short of goals, the pair has undoubtedly been missed. Chicharito has scored 20 goals in 32 appearances for Bayer Leverkusen – significantly more than any United forward. Meanwhile, Welbeck has returned from a lengthy injury with a flurry of goals and positive performances for Arsenal. The real crime, of course, was Van Gaal’s decision not to recruit another striker in the summer. With Rooney washed up, Martial inexperienced, and Rashford a fortunate find relatively late in the season, it is little wonder United has scored just 39 times in 31 Premier League games.

Not signing a centre back
Not only has United been subject to Daley Blind at centre-back, a limited player whose excellent reading of the game cannot always hide a lack of pace or sound positional sense, but also to the vagaries of injury. Of which there have been many during Van Gaal’s time at the club. Chris Smalling’s excellent form has, for large parts of the campaign, masked a huge problem – one that might just cost United a place in next season’s Champions League. After all, Van Gaal’s response to his shaky back-four has been to limit United’s openness, and by default the team’s goalscoring and fans’ entertainment. It was a decision of cataclysmic neglect.

Bizarre treatment of Victor Valdes
Valdes, a six-time La Liga winner, with three European Cups and a World Cup winners’ medal didn’t fancy playing reserve-team football. It wasn’t the best attitude, but instead of making up with Valdes, Van Gaal ostracised the Spaniard, forcing the ‘keeper to train with the academy side before sending him to Belgium on loan. Valdes may not have been of the requisite quality – although, really, could he be any worse than Sergio Romero – but Van Gaal’s treatment of an experienced player resonates strongly of victimisation. Some of the Spanish-speaking clique at United, we are led to believe, also felt this way too.

Dropping David De Gea 
Has there ever, even once, been the suggestion that De Gea is less than professional in his approach? Through the medium of the press, via the player’s agent, De Gea let it be known that he wanted to play as the drama over a mooted transfer to Real Madrid unfolded. Van Gaal thought not, subjecting United to the aforementioned Romero for four games, including a howler against Swansea City that cost United a point. Food for thought should the Reds miss out on Europe by a point. All for a rather pointless point that Van Gaal wanted to make. You get the point?

David de Gea

Dropped: David de Gea

Calling out players publicly
Schweinsteiger is a player of huge experience, who having played at two clubs under Van Gaal, is probably immune to the Dutchman’s more idiosyncratic habits. Paddy McNair, a 21-year-old trying to make his way in the game, is not. The pair are not the only United players to have been called out over the past two years.  Valdes knows it. So does Lingard, who was substituted shortly after missing a good chance in the Reds’ 3-3 draw at Newcastle United earlier this season. Little wonder that rumours of discontent continue to circulate. It is just one facet of Van Gaal’s pettiness. Keep it in-house Louis. Or better still, take it with you.

Getting spooked by defeat at Leicester City
There was a brief period in the late summer 2014 when Van Gaal’s side looked good. Very good. Then Leicester at the King Power Stadium happened – the Foxes turned round a deficit to win 5-3 in spectacular fashion. Van Gaal blamed his defence for the catastrophe, but he regretted his side’s openness more. The Dutchman has rarely come out of his shell since. It had a visceral effect on Van Gaal’s ambition and willingness to take risks. Already ever more conservative, the Dutchman fully gave up on the notion of following United’s rich tradition of open, attractive, attacking football.

Failing to get the best out of Angel Di Maria
There is no one party to blame for Di Maria’s failure at United, although if you have to pick one then it’s Louis. The Argentine is far from perfect, even though he is enjoying a strong season with Paris Saint German. Yet, all of Di Maria’s idiosyncrasies are those that Van Gaal cannot stand: risk-taking, wasting possession, a lack of positional discipline. Di Maria was punished for it, moved from role-to-role each week until he had started in five different positions in a single season with the club. As Di Maria’s value sank in Van Gaal’s estimation, so did the winger’s level of commitment to the cause. He has contributed to more than 20 goals at PSG this season. Q. Which came first, the chicken or the egg? A. Van Gaal’s pig-headed mistrust of flair.

Angel di Maria

Creator? Angel di Maria had a nightmare at Old Trafford

Mistaking possession for domination
Achieving 70 per cent possession with no shots on goal is not “dominating of the game.” Not by some way. At times Van Gaal’s United has taken not one pass too many, but 10. Control of the ball is a sound defensive strategy, but United’s brand of one-paced attack has led to some of the most monotonous football at Old Trafford in living memory. Possession without a purpose. Toothless too. It cannot continue.

Van Gaal warned that it might be so, but nearing the end of two seasons under the Dutchman it is not yet fully clear that his methods have sunk in. There has been more cohesion in recent weeks, but few supporters will bet on such a performance against Tottenham Hotspur at the weekend. Inconsistency remains a strong theme among a squad that does not fully buy into the manager’s philosophy. Hours of video analysis, tactics sheets and microscopic instructions on where to stand, where to pass, and how many touches to take have sucked the freedom of expression out of United’s football. “Ignore him, he’ll brainwash you,” one young player was said to have been told by a club elder. Well, quite.

The X Files
Phil Jones on corners; Robin van Persie in midfield; Nick Powell for Juan Mata at Bournemouth.  The unexplained and other bizarre choices.

That rampant ego
There was a time when Van Gaal’s ego brought amusement. The certain certainty of a man who knew what he wanted and liked it. After David Moyes’ weakness, Van Gaal’s charisma seemed fresh. Important even. Yet, 689 days since Van Gaal’s appointment at Old Trafford there are few supporters who can stomach yet another display of pompous defiance in the face of turgid football and poor results. There is time when humility counts – it was about 600 days ago.

The cheap insults
Sure, Neil Custis is a man who likes a doughnut and isn’t afraid to admit it. The Sun reporter probably hasn’t seen his feet in a while. But fat shaming? In public? Really? Van Gaal’s annoyance at “that fat man’s” questions was a childish response to a childish reporter. The Dutchman should have been above Custis’ mocking. That he wasn’t says much.

Neil Custis

Sheriff Fatman: Neil Custis of the Sun

PSV at home
There are some games for which it is impossible to forgive Van Gaal, even months after the trauma has subsided. With United’s Champions League future in the balance, Van Gaal’s team played a match devoid of ambition, at Old Trafford of all places. Chasing a goal, and three vital points, the Dutchman’s outfit played out a tepid scoreless draw reeking of a team that didn’t care, and manager too cowardly to throw caution to the wind. Imagine Camp Nou, 1999. United 0-1 down with seconds left on the clock. Van Gaal would have brought on a full-back for a striker and crowed about the amount of possession in defeat. Van Gaal was always a strange choice at United; this game might well be his defining moment.

The philosophy
Has anybody worked it out yet?


Drhuffuffersazalias - April 7, 2016 Reply

only 30

CoolAnimal - April 7, 2016 Reply

couldn’t agree more! He needs to go! What a waste of $$$ in the transfer market! Pathetic

CoolAnimal - April 7, 2016 Reply

couldn’t agree more! He needs to go! What a waste of $$$ in the transfer market! Pathetic

big ted - April 7, 2016 Reply

get used to it guys he’s here to stay

james - April 16, 2016 Reply

Who put him there to stay? You?

Andreas - April 7, 2016 Reply

So many of these are wrong. If i begun to write them down i would finish tomorrow. Some of these articles you write do not reflect the majority of the fans’ opinions and i have to say i am quite dissapointed.

Ed - April 8, 2016 Reply

What a crap response. If you think it’s wrong, explain. Even if you’re right about the fans, who says I need to reflect fans’ opinions? It’s my opinion.

JWalker - April 12, 2016 Reply

Haha! C’mon Ed! Who wants to read a blog that has your opinion in it?! If you could canvas the global fanbase before publishing anything else I think it’d be much better for all concerned 😉

N8 - April 7, 2016 Reply

only 30?! 😂

devilinthisguy - April 8, 2016 Reply

He should stay…. If the board couldn’t see any need to sack him before Xmas they might as well just let me stay for another year. United really fucked up the post Fergie thing….David Moyes? LvG infact David Moyes in hindsight did not have so much as bad tactics the players just did not respect him or work hard enough for him. LVG had the opposite problem he does not respect his players or prepared to work for them by protecting them. He is too aggressive and confrontational. Look at PsG Serge Augeier called his manager a faggot on record…Blanc didn’t say much suspended him but wasn’t stupid as to completely ban him from the team serge is back and played in the champions league game against Citeh. If that was LVG the player would have been found by the shores of the nearest beach with a joke in his head.

devilinthisguy - April 8, 2016 Reply

He should stay…. If the board couldn’t see any need to sack him before Xmas they might as well just let me stay for another year. United really fucked up the post Fergie thing….David Moyes? LvG infact David Moyes in hindsight did not have so much as bad tactics the players just did not respect him or work hard enough for him. LVG had the opposite problem he does not respect his players or prepared to work for them by protecting them. He is too aggressive and confrontational. Look at PsG Serge Augeier called his manager a faggot on record…Blanc didn’t say much suspended him but wasn’t stupid as to completely ban him from the team serge is back and played in the champions league game against Citeh. If that was LVG the player would have been found by the shores of the nearest beach with a hole in his head.

Subterranean Steve - April 8, 2016 Reply

Thanks Ed for putting together such an excellent list of reasons why this pompous, over-rated, unimaginative purveyor of dreary football should be sent packing from Old Trafford, never to darken its doors again.

Benzema - April 8, 2016 Reply

30 reasons LvG should stay

1. He’s completely overhauled the team and deserves more than 18 months to make it work

2. He cleared out 36 Deadwood Players. Now, the biggest deadwood remains ; rooney, carrick and fellaini

3. He Signed Daley Blind, Manchester United’s best utility player since John O’Shea.

4. He Signed Schneiderlin, Manchester United’s best Defensive Midfielder since Roy Keane

5. He signed Matteo Darmian, Italy’s best right-back

6. He Signed Fosu Mensah, one of the best young players at the club since Paul Pogba

7. He signed Anthony Martial, the best prospect in football since Cristiano Ronaldo

8. He signed Memphis Depay, player with a huge talent. One of Holland’s best prospects

9. He Signed Luke Shaw, player with a huge talent. One of England’s best prospects

10. He Signed Regan Poole, player with a huge talent. One of Wales’s best prospects

11. He revitalized Youth; Lingard, Rashford, Borthwick-Jackson, Pereira, James Weir, Joe Riley, McNair, etc

12. He built a squad designed to give youth a chance

13. Man Utd net spending under LvG is around 125 million quid, nowhere near the 250 milion figure.

14. He rejected Arsenal bid for Mike Smalling

15. He’s turned Mike Smalling into a top defender

To Be Continued 😉

Denton Davey - April 8, 2016 Reply

While I don’t agree with all of what you’ve written – I do agree that it is not an open-and-shut case that LvG has been a “disaster”. BUT what I do fear is that keeping him on for a third year would pave the way for SilentRyan to get the top-job and that, in my opinion, would be a “disaster”.

A couple/three days ago I quoted a comment from a guy who’d written about this – “Greenmile” in Guardian Online, who, to my mind, had a very balanced view of the injury problems and their impact on LvG’s plans – 8 left backs and 6 right backs ! Talk about a “disaster” !

With regard to personnel decisions – getting rid of Chicharito was a big mistake but signing Schweini and Memphis were reasonable. Schweini was, after all, the captain of the World Cup winners; Memphis has a world of talent but, maybe, not the personality to be a disciplined professional – LvG knows him and thought that the talent outweighed the concerns about maturity.

More to the point, the core of a NewUTD is largely in place: Shaw, Martial, Rashford, Fosu-Mensah, Lingard, Varela, Borthwick-Jackson and so on. Whether through design or accident, LvG has done something quite astonishing in regard to bringing-on the next generation.

However, the key issue is LvG/Jo$e – and if LvG=Giggs then the Cloggie needs to go. LvG has done a very creditable job in turning around UTD from the disastrous mess that was Moyes’ tenure to a sense of a new beginning. AND it’s not like he’s not done something similar in his previous jobs.

So, I’m on the fence only because I would hope that giving LvG a third year doesn’t mean that TheAnointedOne gets the top-job a year later. If that’s the plan then it’s a non-starter and it would be better to just bite-the-bullet and give Jo$e the means to sign one excellent central defender and one excellent midfielder and “instructions” to carry on with the remodelling.

Benzema - April 9, 2016 Reply

If Man Utd is looking to build a Legacy, Mourinho will never fit the bill.

Mourinho will give short term success followed by disaster. I’ve never been impressed by Mou, he has never gone to a team to built some solid foundations, a legacy for the future. Any club he goes there young players lose hope

Ed - April 9, 2016 Reply

I’m sure the eight time league winner and double european cup winner will be devastated by your critique

Benzema - April 9, 2016

Inter Milan still suffering from the Jose Mourinho effect. The 6 year decline, Inter have fallen from the days of the treble.
At the time Mourinho left, Inter had the oldest squad on the entire continent of Europe.

There was one objective for the Mourinho project “win quickly and get out”. Almost bankrupted Inter Milan on their run to CL.
There was no long-term investment in the squad, nothing done to bleed youngsters into the team.

He has done it at Chelsea, too. Won the league and then was stuck in the bottom ten, that’s just bad. They were well on their way to the championship. If they only kept him a bit longer they’d be gone now.

Mourinho sold some of our best talents in their early 20s and got use players in late 20s or early 30s. .
Chelsea were suppose to rule england for another 5 to years. Mourinho came in sold almost all of them and go use eto, falcao, pedro, philepe luis.

Do you think Chelsea wonderkid Traore, Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Kenedy would have gotten their goals by now if Mourinho was in charge. Absolutely no

I would take Pochctto or Simeone or Giggsy over Jose any day because lol

he is a modern forward thinking manager
who has utter faith in youth but at present he is the more successful.

Now, Inter will have to invest in their squad heavily in the future (major overhaul) to replace many of the aging veterans.

bobbynoble - April 9, 2016 Reply

Benzma – Never mind the factual inaccuracies in what you write, it’s interesting that you don’t mention a word about the style and quality of the football nor the lack of success.

Benzema - April 9, 2016 Reply

Like Fergie said, “If you can’t support us when we lose, don’t support us when we win”

Ed - April 9, 2016 Reply

I ignored your list of 15 (where’s the other 15 you promised??) because everyone’s entitled to an opinion. (Mind you I really struggle to understand the point of most of them, let alone a series a factual inaccuracies.) But this comment pisses me off. A critique of the way United are playing, or the manager’s performance isn’t a lack of support. You don’t get to decide who is a fan and who isn’t. You don’t get to edit others’ opinions. You don’t get to belittle people on this board.

Benzema - April 9, 2016

Even Sir Alex Ferguson defends Louis van Gaal…Are you an Man Utd Fan or a glory-hunter ?

“It is dead easy to be critical,” Ferguson he said.

“You have to be realistic about some things – the number of injuries he has had: Phil Jones has played only seven games this season, Ashley Young, [Antonio] Valencia, [Luke] Shaw, these are big losses.

“It doesn’t matter which team you are, if you have players missing of that calibre it has to have an impact on the team.

“The other aspect which is always easy to forget there are also five new players in their first season at United, and two are young players in [Anthony] Martial and Memphis [Depay] and their promise is good.

“You have to have some patience being a Manchester United fan and they have shown that over the years; in Matt Busby’s time, in my time.

“For 150 years of history, it is worth having a couple of years on the quiet side of success because they will always come back and come back strong.”

Ed - April 9, 2016

“Are you an Man Utd Fan or a glory-hunter ?”

I’ve been to hundreds of games, home, away and in Europe, over the last 30 years. You? Yeah, thought not.

Let me educate you on what’s really going on because I can tell you’re struggling to read between the lines:

1) Fergie is desperate to ensure Mourinho doesn’t come because it would seriously undermine Fergie’s power-base
2) Fergie and Mourinho have fallen out big time and Mourinho is certainly strong enough to stand up to Fergie’s tinkering
3) Fergie can only increase his power if Giggs takes over, although the status-quo is at least maintained if Van Gaal stays
4) Fergie was happy to let him minions (i.e Scholes, Neville) undermine Van Gaal when he thought the ‘Mourinho threat’ had been headed off
5) Now Mourinho looks real, Fergie’s trying to support Van Gaal once again
6) It’s been some really pathetic political flip-flopping that’s all about Fergie’s control and actually hurts the club

Rich - April 10, 2016 Reply

I can’t believe Benzema would imply that the founder of United Rant is not a true fan… For having an opinion of his own! Being a United fan is not a cult. Fergie is not L. Ron Hubbard. Ed Woodward is not Reverend Jones. I’m sure Ed loves United more than you can comprehend… Everyone on here wants to see United do well obviously. If Rooney scores we’ll all be happy. But what football ‘fan’ anywhere ever comes away from a no shots on target loss saying to themselves ‘yeah great glad I invested my time, money, energy in that more of the same’? What ‘fan’ has such low self esteem that they wouldn’t dare offer an opinion because what could they possibly know about anything. Benzema!

Matt NW3434 - April 9, 2016 Reply

Couldnt agree more. The fact hes still got a job is bemusing never mind talkin about a 3rd season

K Red - April 16, 2016 Reply

He doesn’t deserve any more time. Selling a bunch of players, some of which we could have used, is not worthy of more time. Signing Blind and then playing him at CB because he didn’t bother to buy a CB does not exonerate LvG. He has not revitalized youth; he’s played the understudies of injured senior players. Rashford played only because of THREE injuries to the strikers above him in the pecking order. Pereira… are you serious??? When’s the last time Weir, Riley, or McNair played?? McNair has TWICE been yanked off at halftime by LvG and has been slated by LvG in public. You call that revitalization??? It’s a lie that he built the squad to give youth a chance. He only said that after Rashford emerged. Back in October 2015 when he was asked why his squad was so thin he said nothing about the youth. Net spending doesn’t work in LvG’s favor. For instance, we spent 57 million on Di Maria and then had to sell him because LvG couldn’t use him properly. Regardless of what we got from Di Maria’s sale, it was largely LvG’s fault for the debacle. Also, selling players like Chicharito was stupid. LvG complained he doesn’t have a 20-goal-a-season striker, and now Chicharito has 20 goals…

How has Darmian been doing for us??? I like him, but are you seriously saying that LvG should stay because he bought Darmian???

Also, you say that Rooney, Carrick, and Fellaini are deadwood, but these players get all kinds of playing time under LvG. Fellaini was thrown in out of position in the Liverpool EL match after being out for a month. So none of that works in LvG’s favor.

Lol at Smalling! He’s our only CB at the moment. To allow the sale of Smalling (not sure whether it was this year or last) would have been folly at any point during LvG’s reign. That’s no reason to keep LvG!!!

Even the youth players you mentioned LvG signed don’t save LvG. It’s great that they’re here now, but that doesn’t mean that LvG needs to stay. Some other manager needs to take it from here.

bobbynoble - April 8, 2016 Reply

Guess who said, “..attacking, attractive football. It is everything I stand for…”

Yes he fucking well did.

Soren Jakobsen - April 8, 2016 Reply

Just about to read it, but I have no doubt it is your finest work yet. Muchas gracias!

Soren Jakobsen - April 8, 2016 Reply

I have read it now and my high expectations were well exceeded. Let’s hope your message finds a home leading to a change.

Tyrone Ashby - April 8, 2016 Reply

We don’t need 30 reasons the fact that his ugly and is not tactically aware of modern football is enuf to fire the idiot

Andrew Yaxley - April 8, 2016 Reply

just the 30?

Red Devil - April 8, 2016 Reply

What a waste of time, don’t bother to watch this weekend match with Spurs, we might have a “heart failure” total rubbish football, I just don’t understand what the MU board is seeing in this ‘Arrogant” LVG fucko.

AMEH GABRIEL FATUSI - April 8, 2016 Reply

Am so pissed off men. dont wanna hear that name next season at old trafford. can someone beg florent perez of real madrid to come and replace that friend of lvg who called himself edwood pls

Shailesh - April 8, 2016 Reply

My goodness. Never , before reading the entire thing, thought the 30 ( quite a big number ) reasons would make much sense, but THEY DO. 30 DIFFERENT and legit reasons at that !

Tom Parkinson - April 8, 2016 Reply

No 1 is simple – he’s fucking clueless

Bonehead - April 8, 2016 Reply

For the final answer we have to look at City since they announced Pep was coming for 2016/17. Manuel P a complete and utter lame duck coach. If we allow LvG a final year then its like that and so much worse.

Ed - April 8, 2016 Reply

Agree with this. It’ll be chaos if he stays another year. Nobody world class would join United right now, with a lame duck manager. Few of the current squad would respect an outgoing coach.

Fusilli Jerry - April 8, 2016 Reply

Implicit in this article, and this week’s Cast, is the overdue acceptance that Mourinho, for all his many flaws, would be better than more Van Gaal. More Van Gaal though, remains the alarming possibility – with Giggs, terrifyingly, to follow.

With such contradictory indications coming through the media each day – Jose house-hunting in Cheshire, Louis given assurances – we can conclude the journalists don’t know what’s happening at United/are making it up. What we the supporters do know though is that Woodward signed off the Schweinsteiger deal, and would have shelled out for Ramos too. Footballers already in clear decline in their slower native leagues, conveniently at clubs whose other players enabled domination of the vast majority of domestic competition, imported into the relentless physical grind and competitiveness of English football to restore United to sporting pre-eminence.

Except I don’t think even Woodward is so clueless as to think thirtysomethings are United’s answer on the pitch (playing surface). Those famous names are the answer in the pitch (business proposal) – for commercial partners, in Nigeria, Singapore and so on – demanding World Cup profile to sell their shampoos and soft drinks. Hence Rooney’s privileges (although it badly undermines Rant’s credibility to maintain the scouser is a bigger problem than central midfield).

The manager who colludes with the sponsor-driven personnel policy is the manager who gets/keeps the job.

The Rookie - April 8, 2016 Reply

It’s all painfully true.

Matt Wing - April 8, 2016 Reply

only 30?

Johnny Bravo - April 8, 2016 Reply

well done for keeping it down to less than 100

Scott Arthur - April 8, 2016 Reply

Rooney: Boss, plan A isn’t working, we’re 2-0 down at half time! What’s plan B?”

LVG: Do plan A better!!

Ryan - April 8, 2016 Reply

all correct, except I think Martial is better coming in from the left and LVG was really the only choice United had post Moyes.

NazManUnited - April 8, 2016 Reply

MUFC have a suicide wish if this keep this idiot. It’s like declaring you can never win or have no belief you can.

NazManUnited - April 8, 2016 Reply

The first step to winning is the fear the opposition fans & players have in your manager. LVG is a fool

NazManUnited - April 8, 2016 Reply

Sir Alex, Mourinho, Pep etc have a psychological edge MUFC need that strength to return

NazManUnited - April 8, 2016 Reply

MUFC must have high expectations & sack LVG. LVG has spent 2 seasons bashing fans down to his low expectations. F, U we are MUFC

NazManUnited - April 8, 2016 Reply

Big Sam would get 4th at MUFC if he spent Q Billion thats not an achievement unless your Wenger

pint vulger - April 9, 2016 Reply

I spend most days now asking the same question ,look /listen expectantly to the media,forums,anyone who has ever delivered at parcel at Carrington, hoping that the white smoke has been spotted over Sale.
At the risk of annoying probably most of the younger supporters who read /go to the game watch the games,apologies.I have to say we have seen this before.
I f anyone would have told me at the age of 16 Utd the European Champions (potentially world champs,blew that one) would not win that Trophy again for another 30 odd years,and the league for another 26 years ,that WORSE,City would be managed by possibly the worlds best (but still fuck things up,somethings never change) well you know the answer.
See the unbelievable feat by Sir Matt was just that ,build a brand new team and win the EC inside 10 years of total disaster was …..unbelievable.
But……you know whats coming and what did happen,a succession starting with the lovely lovely man Wilf Mc’ of desperate successors haunted by the great man upstairs.It took a man of SAF courage and belief to provide what a club of world standing (more than really) craved and enjoyed.
You would think that the experiences of the past ,the almost identical situation down the East Lancs you would plan /guarantee it wouldn’t happen ever again.
Incredibly it has,and it looks like its going to continue,how the hell would mourinho manage his methods if Fergies not on board (I assume Sir Matt at least supported Fergie)
Fergies recent support of LVG although did have some relevant points is/was an insult to the supporters, very worrying that he still craves some control,why did he retire ?
I always said I will rate Fergie with what he leaves us with,well PL champions wasnt bad ,but his assumed interfering his taking his stock down in my red eyes.
So Ed Woodward appoint Mouriniho its and always was a no brainer,i’ll willing take another 3 years of success and understand that long term Utd supporters look on City as the real enemy/rivals ,dont hand over the keys to the Town Hall.

denton davey - April 9, 2016 Reply

I get the gist of what you’re saying – “if only to get SAF out from behind-the-scenes [and SilentRyan out of the succession], it’s worthwhile to appoint Jo$e”.

But the issue is complicated by misty-eyed nostalgia for “the UTD way” – the slip from grace has been astonishing in the past three years. To some extent, there is reason to hope that the “kids” can come good but there’s still a big problem in midfield – and, to a lesser extent, in central midfield – which needs addressing.

If you’re a glass-half-full kinda-guy then you might believe that these problems can be rectified with the return of Jones/Valencia/Young/Shaw but none of them are really the answer to the central issues.

If you’re a glass-half-empty kinda-guy then you focus on the inadequacy of Blind as a central defender and the weakness of the central midfield – maybe Daley Blind can go some way towards addressing the latter issue but at least two experienced and gritty recruits are needed to reinforce the team’s spine. So, if you’re that glass-half-empty kinda-guy then the key question is who do you trust to purchase two key additions to this squad ?

From my perspective, for all the good work that LvG has done in promoting “kids” he’s failed miserably in sorting out the key issues relating to the team’s spine. To mix metaphors, that’s his team’s Achilles’ Heel. (Insofar as SAF – and one presumes Silent Ryan – believe that the injuries to Jones, Valencia and Young were crucial then can one expect a serious response to this issue ?) On the other hand, whatever his shortcomings might be, Jo$e’s teams are always solid and structured, with gritty men playing those key roles.

The other issue is TheWayneBoy – he’s clearly not a centre forward any longer but is he capable of being a #10 ? He doesn’t have the touch but, perhaps, he could make up for that with his determination and physicality – but, of course, perhaps not ! It’s not worked before so why should it work in the future, in a different situation ? I reckon that Jo$e would look to TheWayneBoy in this role because he lacks the speed to play at the point-of-attack.

Overall, then, it’s a conundrum – but it’s not wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma. UTD need to start winning and the guy who is most likely to install that ethos is Jo$e. (I’m off the fence !)

denton davey - April 9, 2016 Reply

” there’s still a big problem in midfield – and, to a lesser extent, in central midfield – which needs addressing.”

oops, I meant to write ” there’s still a big problem in midfield – and, to a lesser extent, in central defence – which needs addressing”.

Rich - April 9, 2016 Reply

Great article. I’d love to see United playing exciting football and scoring a lot of goals. I’d love to see United playing in Europe and going glove to glove with the world’s top teams. I hope the club get it together, though I believe we won’t be able to with a conservative mindset from the board down. You’ve mentioned Liverpoolisation more like Arsenalisation.

Subterranean Steve - April 10, 2016 Reply

Don’t want another year of this negative, cautious football.

It doesn’t matter what the standard of player, Dr. Frankenstein will still cobble together a team which is much uglier than the some of its individual parts.

AndrewHardeman - April 10, 2016 Reply

Great read, he has to go to the Algarve to retire this summer.

Julian - April 10, 2016 Reply

In a reasonable attempt at putting together a logical argument for LvG to go, it’s a pity you have to continually vent your hatred (its nothing less is it?) of Wayne Rooney. It seems a complete obsession. No chance is missed to direct your invective towards “the scouser” (a favourite derogatory appellation). Rooney is not above criticism of course and maybe he’s not the same player he was some seasons ago but why is it then that three managers, Van Gaal, Hodgson and the possible future boss at OT, Mourinho still see his worth? Clearly Rooney remains a huge influence at OT and within the England set up too – both on and off the pitch. That’s not to say that he should be certain of a place – what’s more he doesn’t expect it either. A place in any top team has to be earned – everyone knows that.

Anyway, leaving the Rooney matter aside, I wouldn’t put any money on LvG not being at OT next season. It was always plan A for him to restructure the team and the facilities and to hand over to the waiting apprentice, Ryan Giggs, after the three year stint. I believe that plan remains on track. A back up plan in case of emergency to bring Mourinho in at the end of this season may or may not have been formulated. All this talk of 5m if he hasn’t signed by the end of May and another 10m if no deal has been struck by the end of June, is just that, I think, talk. It seems so unbusiness like but i suppose one can say – stranger things have happened.

Clearly if the club were to sign Mourinho, Woodward would have to go out on a limb. He may not have the backing of his local board with Fergie and Charlton dead against. Quite why Fergie is supposed to have fallen out so badly with Mourinho remains a mystery. It was not so long ago that our erstwhile manager was singing his praises so very highly and so publicly. Woodward of course could persuade the main board which Fergie and Charlton are not on and I’m sure that’s where a decision such as this will be made anyway.

It seems the club is between the proverbial rock and a hard place. Mourinho is as successful manager as any but he is a risk unless he undertakes to adapt to United’s mores. He wins trophies but at the same time he upsets people and does things his way which might not be United’s. The debacle of his time at Chelsea this season still has to be explained. How could the wheels come off so badly? Indeed was this a turning point in his career? Has he now lost the midas touch? Probably not but who knows? Is JM a risk worth taking?

But keeping LvG on is also a risk for the reasons articulated in your 30 points. Whilst I agree he has done some good things, above all restoring some pride on the pitch, United are no closer to success than when he took over. The complaints about the style and tactics are valid. VG has been trying to inculcate a European style but without the players to carry it off. He has clearly made mistakes and has had to eat a fair dollop of humble pie in the process. Significantly he has given Giggs a greater say in training sessions. LvG is not quite the same dogmatic and bombastic personality he was when he arrived.

Nevertheless, he might be able to persuade the club that given another large cash “war chest” he might be able to get closer to his vision of how things should be done. Whether or not United finishes in the top four or wins the FAC, the powers that be might just give him another chance – seeing that as a less risky option than Mourinho.

Whether or not Giggs eventually succeeds remains to be seen of course. He may be the quiet one but there is no doubt he’s been building his reputation within the club and has earned the respect of the players not only as a coach but as a potential manager too.

All the options carry a risk and the way ahead remains unclear unlike our noisy neighbours who seemed to have mapped it out quite cleverly off the pitch including being in a better position now to challenge Ed’s commercial empire. In that regard warning bells are starting to chime.

denton davey - April 10, 2016 Reply

Sadly, you might be right.

Fusilli Jerry - April 10, 2016 Reply

Julian – can I offer a couple of theories ?
1. Why Ferguson is now anti-Mourinho (if true). I imagine Mourinho would have been different towards Ferguson after getting passed over for Moyes. Ferguson’s attitude in response would then have hardened as a result, and the relationship has carried on downhill from there.
2. Why Mourinho’s Chelsea champions imploded. 4 words: Eva Caneiro Facebook post. The petty vindictiveness of her being demoted, shortly after taking to Facebook to thank people for messaging their moral support in the immediate aftermath of the Hazard incident, shattered in an instant the ability of the Chelsea players to see Mourinho as their rightful leader. (What fascinates me most about that whole business is, surely the Chelsea board would have had to sign off Caneiro’s demotion?)

I think United’s best interests, immediate term and longer, are served by Van Gaal & Giggs leaving. Suggesting United would be better off this not finishing Top 4 this season, not winning the FA Cup, making Van Gaal & Giggs untenable. But we just don’t know what Woodward is thinking, whether he’s got the balls to act. Instinct tells me Mourinho will be England manager come July.

Julian - April 10, 2016 Reply

That’s a plausible theory about Fergie and Mourinho. However, Fergie did say that Mourinho was out of contention by the time Fergie decided to retire as he had already committed himself to Abramovich. Not sure I believe that.

As regards Caneiro I think the wheels were starting to come off big time by the time of that incident and her subsequent demotion or whatever it was. She was a symptom rather than a cause of discontent within the Chelsea camp.

I think Woodward is dead scared of making another mistake so he’d rather stick with what he knows than risk another debacle. Mourinho would be a risk but quite honestly it might be the least risky of the options. LvG is really making no progress as such and his decisions continue to mystify. The original idea was to let Giggs take over a settled and successful side which is not the case now and may not be this time next year if they stick with Van Gaal. However, jettisoning VG and bringing in Mourinho would most likely mean the end of Giggs and we simply don’t know what he has been promised. Of course JM could be persuaded to keep Giggs on as his assistant but would the latter agree to that?

With the very real prospect of an exit from the FAC looming on top of no ECL football, the pressure is on Woodward to do the right thing. The options are narrowing and Mourinho for the next three years seems the better bet even if we don’t quite know what is going to happen.

Fusilli Jerry - April 10, 2016 Reply

In seeking to avoid blame for Moyes, Ferguson has implied that his first 5 choices were unavailable – Guardiola, Ancelotti, Klopp, Van Gaal, Mourinho. Precisely why Mourinho was “unavailable” – I don’t believe Chelsea were Mourinho’s first choice in 2013, any more than he was Chelsea’s first choice – I reckon Bobby Charlton was allowed to wield far too much influence.

Fast forward to 2015: yes Chelsea got their pre-season wrong and Mourinho was fuming at losing to Wenger in the Community Shield, and sulking at not being bought the likes of Stones and Pogba, but I don’t think the players had lost respect for him prior to Carneiro.

Her constructive dismissal case should prove very interesting – and if, as I suspect, the Chelsea hierarchy are implicated, it might improve Mourinho’s tarnished image – although maybe not enough to stop him having to work for Monaco or in China rather than at United or replacing Hodgson.

K Red - April 16, 2016 Reply

Just because a plan was put in place doesn’t mean that there will never be any changes to that plan! Did the board also plan to crash out of the CL in the group stage and to be humiliated by Liverpool? Was the plan to scrape for 4th place in a league we could’ve won? The FA Cup would be nice, but it wouldn’t compensate for CL.

LvG does not understand Manchester United any more than Mourinho does. Once he failed to get a CB he claimed to have wanted a thin squad so he could play the youth, but that’s nonsense. Why do you harp on Mou’s debacle at Chelsea, yet completely ignore the fact that he’d won the league with Chelsea the year before?! Aren’t you aware of the player power that exists at Chelsea?! Those players got their league title and then they fell out with Mou. I find it strange that you blame all that on Mou even though he won the league with the same players the season before.

It’s also false that Mou doesn’t play the youth. Youth players like Carlos Alberto, Petr Cech, Raphael Varane, and Davide Santon were all given debuts ahead of senior players by Mou.

I like Rooney, but just because he has earned the admiration of a number of managers does not mean that he’s still good enough to be a starter. Part of the problem is that he earns more than a number of EPL strikers who are much better than him. He still has quality, but LvG relied on him way too much at the end of 2015.

Julian - April 11, 2016 Reply

The Independent is carrying an article on Jose in which it has a whole series of quotes by Fergie on Mourinho – all hugely complimentary. The last one is December 2015 some 10 days before JM was fired by Chelsea.

In fairness to Fergie he’s always been supportive of managers under fire and maybe his support of LvG is nothing more than that. That’s not to say that he’s not an adherent to plan A in which his protege ultimately takes over after LvG’s contract expires.

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