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UNITEDRANT

Out-of-touch Van Gaal has failed – now for the inevitable endgame

January 9, 2016 Tags: , , Opinion 44 comments
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It was, one supporter departing Old Trafford claimed, the worst Manchester United performance in more than 30 years. Perhaps not, there have been some truly devastating defeats in that time, but few supporters can remember less entertainment on a night where United’s passivity in the face of a supposedly inferior opposition reached a fresh nadir. Indeed, the Reds’ narrow FA Cup victory over League One Sheffield United, despite a rash of defeats in December, may yet come to be seen as peak Louis van Gaal – a day when the tide finally turned in the endgame of the Dutchman’s Old Trafford departure.

Van Gaal’s was already under pressure of course, despite back-room briefings by Ed Woodward to the effect that the veteran coach is a “genius” and his job is under no threat. Neither is true of course. Van Gaal has demonstrably failed at United and his dismissal would surely come but for Woodward’s self-interest in protecting the second coach to have failed under his charge as United’s executive vice-chairman.

Yet, rarely can a last-minute FA Cup winner, the script of choice for Roy Race and Melchester Rovers, have felt so flat. The jeers that echoed around Old Trafford as the 96th minute final whistle came were not from the vanquished and vocal 8,000 travelling Sheffield supporters, but from the Stretford End and beyond. Whatever the claims to the contrary, United’s supporters have turned and Van Gaal is the primary target.

United’s anaemia

The Dutchman was moved once again to defend his team in the aftermath, laying the blame for his side’s anaemic performance on the visitors. This time Van Gaal’s defence came in the wake of victory and not defeat, but still from a position of decreasing tenability as manager of one of the world’s élite clubs. Van Gaal is a man who has lost supporters, his players, old pros and possibly even sponsors on the altar of a philosophy that, after 18 months in the job, amounts to little of worth.

"“We knew in advance that it would be very difficult because they defend with 10 and sometimes 11 players,” said Van Gaal, of the visitors, who started the fixture some 47 places below United in the football pyramid. “Why is nobody talking about the lack of chances Sheff United created also?” he added without, it seems, hint of irony. It was a statement that rightly brought derision from United supporters in social media."

On the surface of supporters ire is the campaign’s mediocre progress. December 2015 is now recorded as the worst in the club’s history, with defeats to Wolfsburg, Bournemouth, Norwich City and Stoke City adding to the sense of building anger and frustration with Van Gaal’s methods. That the manager should, quite bizarrely, claim 2015 a “success” only served to stoke the fires – flames hardly doused by a spirited draw with Chelsea and narrow victory over Swansea City.

Deeper-rooted is frustration with United’s playing style – with its focus on one-paced possession that so often manifests itself in long passages of movement from side-to-side and little real penetration. It is a style anathema to most supporters and one all-too-predictable for opposition managers to counter. It was always a strange style to bring to United, but one that now speaks of Van Gaal’s ongoing inability to get to grips with United’s historical and cultural raison d’etre.

Fergie’s final years

Despite the disingenuous historical retrenchment that sometimes paints Sir Alex Ferguson’s final years as being on par with Van Gaal’s prosaic outfit, the Dutchman’s side is the least flamboyant United team is more than 30 years. It is one with only two operating modalities: a focus on arresting the opposition’s ability to play by hogging possession, or utter defensive chaos. The former presents itself in a level of passivity that does not change with the opposition at hand – Van Gaal’s use of two defensive midfielders in Saturday’s cup tie surprised nobody. The latter contributed much to United’s dreadful December.

This is a team that ranks 14th for shots taken in the Premier League, 12th for goals scored and, criminally, 16th for those scored at home. United hasn’t scored in the first half of a game at Old Trafford in 10 matches. There is so little flair and creativity allowed that, despite being a team that includes Juan Mata, Ander Herrera, Anthony Martial, Jesse Lingard, Memphis Depay, and Ashley Young, United ranks 11th for dribbles and 12th for key passes. It is, however, first in the Premier League for number of passes-per-game and passes-per-goal.

“There just seems to be an acceptance of bad performances,” former Red Paul Scholes told BT Sport on Saturday night.

“Every time you come to Old Trafford you see negative football. The players looked bored themselves. There’s no spirit, there’s nobody having a go at each other, there’s no smiling, there’s no entertainment. I think even Van Gaal on the bench looks bored, but he’ll come out and say he’s happy.

“We haven’t seen anything different now for the last six months, that’s the way this team plays football and he’ll be happy with the 1-0 win. But they didn’t create a chance, had to win a game against a League One side with a penalty in the 94th minute. In my eyes it’s not good enough.”

Scholes is right too. Not nearly good enough.

Beyond poor results and the lack of entertainment Van Gaal has created divisions within his own squad that will be difficult to heal. Much of it is based on a plutocratic approach that seeks to alienate those who do not fit within the manager’s poorly defined philosophy. Victor Valdes’ ostracism, for example, did much to create disaffection among the Spanish clique at United. Meanwhile, Van Gaal’s inability to get the best out of his more enigmatic talents – Mata, Memphis and Angel di Maria come to mind – says much about the Dutchman’s rigidity of approach.

Square pegs, rounds holes

More than once have senior players approached their veteran manager this season to request a change-up in tactics and training. And there are too many players crowbarred into positions that are not natural and do not bring the best out of a otherwise multi-talented squad. Too many “square pegs in round holes” as Scholes puts it. On Saturday Marouane Fellaini, Anthony Martial and Mata started the game in roles that are far from ideal, perhaps even actively damaging the team in the case of the Belgian. Flexibility is one thing, Van Gaal’s intransigence quite another.

Van Gaal’s inflexibility, seen so often in his strategic approach to games – note the continuing use of two defensive midfielders whether required or not – stretches to a pattern of substitutions that has become all-too-predictable. Some, especially those made around the hour mark, owe much to sports science and pre-game planning, not in-game management. It had led the Dutchman to be outsmarted by opponents more than once. Others are even more difficult to understand – Mata’s substitution for Nick Powell at Bournemouth, for example.

Increasingly Van Gaal, who was once seen as charmingly idiosyncratic, infuriates supporters off the pitch as well. In the aftermath of United’s cup victory Van Gaal was moved to blame the visitors’ defensive instincts for United “not moving the ball quickly enough” – as if it was the first time an opponent has sought to contain and United the first to face that particular challenge. Van Gaal’s excuse is, patently, total nonsense.

Not that the manager is solely to blame for limp performances. Players must take responsibility too, especially the more senior members of the dressing room, many of whom have underperformed this season. Captain Wayne Rooney has scored two in the past two games, but has just nine for the season in all competitions – three in the Premier League. Mata, Fellaini, Michael Carrick and, increasingly, Bastian Schweinsteiger have struggled to make an impact this season too. The latter, while the most composed of United’s midfield resources, is also its least dynamic.

“As players sometimes you have to lift the crowd, whether it’s a tackle, whether it’s a shot on goal,” adds Scholes. “You need to make something happen as a footballer at this club. To just to go through the motions like they did, people need digging out sometimes, it just seems to be accepted.

“It would take me two or three days to get over that performance. I’ve tried to defend this team, it’s getting more difficult to do it because every time you come to Old Trafford you see negative football.”

Pressure

The pressure of failing results, supporter ire and dressing room unease has created a manager who is no longer his full confident self. The brash sense of self-worth that is Van Gaal’s trademark, and desperately needed in the post-David Moyes era, has now metamorphosed into curt arrogance. It is, perhaps, actively inhibiting United’s progress.

Increasingly, Van Gaal’s media conferences are tetchy affairs too, with the Dutchman in denial when it comes to supporters’ frustrations. “We are always the dominating side,” he said last week – as if possession, as passive as it has become under Van Gaal, is the equal of the attacking flair fans, viewers and sponsors seek. On Saturday United enjoyed more than 70 per cent of the ball, which was a season high, but managed just two shots on target. Plus ça change.

But change must come, if not to please the fans – of whom the Glazer family and to a lesser extent Woodward care little – then the sponsors who pay United millions for reflected glory and global reach. The glory is nearly three seasons out of date, and reach can only be impacted negatively by the sinkhole of anaemic football.

Yet, the bigger picture also stretches beyond Van Gaal’s failings as a manager and his players’ limitations on the pitch. After all, before the transfer market splurge of the last 24 months, the Glazer family’s parsimony had inevitably degraded the quality of United’s squad. Van Gaal may have spent around £250 million on new players, recouping north of £100 million in sales, but many observers point to the need to catch up with rivals at home and abroad that had outspent United over the past decade.

And when United did spend the club did so seemingly without rhyme, let alone reason. Woodward’s scattergun and, frankly, desperately naïve approach to the market has been exposed repeatedly since Ferguson and David Gill stepped down in 2013. Woodward’s role as United’s de facto CEO and its director of football has failed and, potentially, created a conflict of interest in which the Essex-born executive cannot fire Van Gaal for the negative blowback on his own role. Executive management and the ‘football side’ are split at most élite clubs across the continent for this very reason.

More widely the lack of ‘football nous’ on the Board, for want of a better term, has inevitably affected United’s decision-making. Aside from Woodward and six Glazer children there are three former bankers on the Board. Ferguson and Sir Bobby Charlton retain no executive power and precious little real influence inside Old Trafford’s boardroom. There is no longer the expertise at the club to fire Van Gaal let alone successfully appoint a successor. It is a terrifying observation, but one that manifests itself in United’s apparent rejection of Pep Guardiola’s love-letter to the club – an open invitation to appoint the world’s pre-eminent coach.

Indeed, the focus on commercial not football requirements is at the very heart of United’s challenges – they are unlikely to be solved under the current regime. Should United dismiss Van Gaal then the structure will continue to negatively impact the next man too.

Van Gaal’s failure

Yet, the inevitable conclusion, despite so many factors being outside the Dutchman’s control, is that Van Gaal has failed and is now on borrowed time. Few supporters will shed a tear for the abrasive Dutchman when he finally goes. That the club is not yet out of the race for Champions League qualification is surely the preeminent reason behind a decision to keep the manager on the payroll. For now.

United’s substantial income means that full-scale decline – the Liverpoolisation of the club – is not inevitable, although there is scant evidence the regime truly knows how to spend as well as its makes money.

But choices made now and over the next few months will surely impact United for the next decade or more. One of those choices will, inevitably, be Van Gaal’s downfall.

Should Louis van Gaal be sacked?

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44 comments

clive whitson - January 10, 2016 Reply

you are so correct

=['] - January 10, 2016 Reply

depressing & accurate assessment. I’d say full scale Liverpoolisation is well underway mind. (p.s. typo of Stratford End too)

Tim LOON-E - January 10, 2016 Reply

Cant Disagree with hardly any of that

Ray Allger - January 10, 2016 Reply

agree with you but Woodward is too successful on the corporate side for Glazers to get rid

Glenn Dalmas - January 10, 2016 Reply

leave em alone by time they’ve finished glazers will sell up !

Diesen Pather - January 10, 2016 Reply

Sack him and spurs boss the chance

DAMIAN™ - January 10, 2016 Reply

Newcastle and Liverpool our only hope now

ben - January 10, 2016 Reply

this was as damning in its completeness as Scholes was in his brevity. Great read.

Simon Zambelli - January 10, 2016 Reply

brilliant ed. there’s no hope with that prick Woodward at the club let alone lvg! Fuck I’m depressed!!

Iain McCartney - January 10, 2016 Reply

Do you really need so many?

Manchester's Red - January 10, 2016 Reply

very good point, specially now when we know that PEP will take over City next season. United need new direction

NazManUnited - January 10, 2016 Reply

I’ll say it with a few; LVG is outdated & washed up, a spent force. The other one is an Ediot

Ian Hendry Orr - January 10, 2016 Reply

Right in one !!!

Andrew Turner - January 10, 2016 Reply

one will do “shit”

Harold Orimalade - January 10, 2016 Reply

A very well written article and totally encapsulates the problem with United.

As a United supporter. it saddens me to hear ex players and others close to the club seem to want to compare LVG’s era with David Moyes’s time. The benchmark should always be the Ferguson years.

I am also miffed by the position taken by other ex-players that also seem to want to accept the fact that teams have become tougher and that United’s lack of world class players is the issue. I disagree with both points. Afterall, United does not need world class players to beat Sheffield Utd, or to win the Premiership.

For me perhaps the biggest sadness is what you pointed out so well in your article. United is slowly becoming a club that is accepting mediocrity…those who want us to continue this way often say that we should let LVG keep his job because we do not want to be a club that hire and fire easily…we must not be afraid to fire if we have a manager that does not sufficiently understand what this club is about.

If LVG does not grasp how big United is…how can he appreciate when performance is poor…?

Huw Jones - January 10, 2016 Reply

Good piece Ed.

mark - January 10, 2016 Reply

what’s the point we never get rid lost will to live .

Denton Davey - January 10, 2016 Reply

Well argued, well written, and very much spot-on.

The only two reasons I can imagine that LvG is still on-the-job are:

First, a deal with Pep has been concocted for the summer which would mean that the only feasible alternative to keeping LvG on-the-job would be that the interim-appointment of Ryan Giggs would be considered an even worse short-term alternative; or,

Second, antipathy to Jo$e Mourinho is both absolute and complete.

The first “reason” sounds improbable given the deep connections between Guardiola and the two ex-Barca executives who have been plotting for him to be hired at ManShitty – and, I suppose, the codicil here has to be that Pep pointedly snubbed SAF the last time around.

The second “reason” bemuses me. Jo$e has a fantastic track-record and a string of recent successes (not successes that harken back twenty years); his failure at CSKALondon this season comes on the back of an easy canter to last year’s EPL crown.

Furthermore, the barbs against his style of football seem to me to be knee-jerk simplifications – Jo$e is an arch-pragmatist. When he has the players to attack – the first half of last season, his La Liga championship season when RM scored loads of goals, and his first go-round in England when the RentBoyz were imperious with Drogba/Robben/Duff/Lampard/Makalele and Eider Gudjonson.

Looking at this year’s edition of TheLads, its hard to see that kind of quality but it isn’t hard to see that there is a lot of attacking promise with Martial and Memphis. Those two are, I think, destined for stardom although Memphis does have a “big ‘ead”. I’m not a fan of Jesse Lingard and I have no idea what to make of AdnanJ, KidWilson, or Andreas Pereira; all of these kids have shown promise in their brief cameos but can they do it consistently ? For sure, Juan Mata and TheWayneBoy have shown pretty conclusively that they seem to be on the downside of their careers.

There’s a lot of raw talent in those eight players that has been stifled by LvG’s straightjacket style of play. Indeed, yesterday it was Memphis’ refusal to wear the straightjacket that led to his two shots on goal and the jinking-run which brought about the penalty. The point is that even without additions, this collection of talent should be doing much, much better.

On the other hand, the defence seems to me to be constantly on-edge – DDG and “Mike” aside, the other three positions are very much make-shift in their staffing. Darmian seems to be somewhat perplexed by the high-intensity demands of the EPL; Daley Blind is very much a jack-of-all-trades but also very much a master-of-none; while the loss of both Rocky and Luke Shaw has been keenly felt.

With regard to the midfield, it’s just “lip-stick on a pig”. SAF’s frivolous waste of Paul Pogba’s talent is something that cannot be denied and is a source of continual bemusement. Pogba is a true “world class” player and replacing him with a second-tier talent like Ander Herrera (who is not good enough to get a look-see in the Spanish national team and therefore must be considered “second tier” in terms of a strict grading system) and waning super-stars like Schweini and MC16. Blind and Morgan Schneiderlin are, like Ander Herrera, serviceable players – the kid of players who can “do a job” but none of that trio could get a game in if Carrick/Schweini were in their pomp and Pogba was cavorting box-to-box.

So, I can’t believe that a pragmatist like Jo$e couldn’t make a silk purse out of this sow’s ear. It might not be pretty BUT it couldn’t be more defeatist AND boring that the tripe served up by LvG.

Opti - January 10, 2016 Reply

Outstandingly well-written piece. I am more or less on board with this. Should LvG be sacked? Yes. Now? No!

I am somewhat torn on LvG as I think the senior players (Rooney mostly) are vastly underperforming and showing terrible leadership (show me some guts!) — it was the same with Moyes. Since LVG and Moyes are vastly different in their tactics, I think a lot of problems reside with the senior players (different inputs, same output). Both managers use fancy sports science in their decision-making, even if LvG does not make it obvious (Ryan’s movie on Netflix shows this).

Also, younger players are experiencing a very tough time at the club! The fantastic encouragement that saw Ronaldo and Rooney, the Fledgelings, and the Babes mature in front of our eyes is now gone: the audience in the stands boo every game, even when it’s acceptable. How does that help the team and the younger players? Screw the manager, coaches, and admin: how do our fans help our team? Where has our home advantage gone?

We speak about Liverpoolisation, but when I watch a United game, I am more reminded of Madridisation — booing, spoiled fans who got used to one-of-a-kind success under Fergie (which didn’t come over night). We SHOULD expect title-chasing seasons, but we should also understand that we’re undergoing enormous changes and be patient. Our recent foray into Galactico spending is another trait of Madridisation and I hope we abandon this soon (Ed’s fault in my book). We have become spoiled and are acting as such. It’s petulant.

I am looking forward to 6-18 months from now, when LvG is gone and this painful (eye-watering) process will be over. I don’t buy into any reactionary 1-dimensional pundits (Scholes, Hargreaves, Owen included) who claim that United are the worst thing since the wheel, yet, these people defend and praise Rooney to the tilt (“No one can play under this system” –> I guess, Fergie’s and Moyes’ systems were unplayable too). In fact, the more they spew the constantly-used uninteresting two sentences of LVG criticism and Rooney praise, the more I want LvG to succeed and Rooney to fail (which he is doing already). I didn’t know being England captain gave him the status of Pope in England! The reverence is nauseating, especially from Scholes and Owen who know what Rooney is actually capable of.

So where are we in 5 months? Most likely: Top 4 and a cup run with boring football. If we better our performances against every opponent in the 2nd half of the season, we will be fine for now. Can we: yes. Will we: I hope… if not, should Rooney and LvG be sacked. Absolutely.

/crazyRant

Richard - January 10, 2016 Reply

Van Gaal believes that he must stay positive in the face of whatever happens. He must bend reality if necessary. He will never accept defeat.. Ever. It’s his job. he can’t very well admit that he has no idea. He can’t tell his players that they are bad, or that they are failing. He can’t tell himself that he is failing. He will stay positive and resilient to the bitter end, like Nick Clegg or Gill from the Simpsons; not like ‘irresponsible’ Scholes whom I imagine Van Gaal envies enormously for his uncensored undoctored perspective.

Sam Gamble - January 10, 2016 Reply

Great article and some fantastic replies posted too. I hate to be all doom and gloom but the theater of dreams was turned upside down yesterday and what we got was nightmarish. Not because we were played off the park and embarrassed that way. But, for the first time as a United fan I watched a game slowly pass me by and I began to realise that I didn’t care. That I could walk away from this game and have so many other better things to do than witness Magical Manchester United become, well uninspired and characterless in front of my very eyes. It’s like the rest of the footballing world is playing in color and we’ve reverted to playing in black and white. But of course I stuck it out, for a team that has given me so much I will always stand by Manchester United, but not necessarily certain individuals that are involved in it. With regards to yesterdays game I’d love to be able to say well done to Sheffield United. If they put in a heroic performance by throwing their bodies on the line, the keeper played out of his skin and the woodwork was still rattling as a result of hitting it so often. But I can’t. Sheffield United didn’t have to be good, just organized. Van Gaal has either forgotten or never worked out how to beat lesser opposition (no disrespect intended) in the English game. I understand people’s reluctance to sack him, because as many would say it’s just not the United way, but this is ridiculous. When fans started ironically applauding Memphis for the first shot on goal after nearly 70 minutes I wanted to cry. What has happened to the magical aura and atmosphere that surrounded this brilliant club. I understand the players have to take some responsibility but good management goes a very long way. Alex Neil took over a Norwich city side that was nearly identical to the one that was relegated and sliding down the championship and the very same season he get’s them promoted. Eddie Howe doesn’t get enough praise for the job he’s done at Bournemouth. The point is a good manager gets the best out of the players he’s got to work with. I refuse to look at this current crop of players and truly believe they are as awful as the performances suggest. Thus LVG has to take the brunt of the blame.
However their are positives under Van Gaal and these have been the acquisition of Martial, the faith shown to certain youngsters such as Lingard and the transformation of both Chris Smalling and Ashly Young into legitimately decent players. And I genuinely believe that the squad LVG has molded can be turned into a side that can challenge for trophies in the not to distant future. Just not with LVG at the helm. United fans are always accused of being plastic and spoiled and when we don’t get our way we kick up a stink. But what I’ve witnessed over the last few months is an incredibly patient fan base become more and more frustrated with poor results and dire football. I really don’t mind if we don’t win anything for a while. I’ve witnessed more glory than most fans would ever see in a lifetime, I just want colorful football and acceptable performances back at OT. Thanks LVG for some green shoots, but it’s time Manchester United moves on.

SKW - January 10, 2016 Reply

I don’t care about watching them anymore.

As I said elsewhere, the game was tape-delayed in the States and I saw the score (from a penalty) so I didn’t even bother to watch. Why bother? This team is terrible and anemic and predictable and lacking in a great deal of quality.

I harbor no illusions LVG will go, though. Unless he loses a number of matches in a row and loses them badly, he is here for the rest of the season.

The mess his successor will have to clean up will be mighty. And unfortunately, the mess will be such that no one will come here in the summer market. We’re in for another year next year like this year, in which case the slip into Liverpool-ism comments begin to sting…

Dave Green - January 10, 2016 Reply

And there’s my bedtime reading later!

Willy Humberside - January 10, 2016 Reply

Superb piece. Agree with it wholly.

Steve - January 10, 2016 Reply

A well-structured article and I agree wholeheartedly with the points made. It is very clear what is required. United are a huge brand with a product on the pitch that is not fit for purpose. As in any global business the Board must look at themselves before looking elsewhere:
1. Woodward should concentrate on the Business Deals
2. Recruit a Director of Player Recruitment who has a “track record and reputation”, in other words clowt!

Clearly the Product manager (LVG) has lost the plot and as such it is time for the Production Line to develop an alternative.

3 (i) In the short-term Giggs (with Scholes and Butt) put the passion and entertainment values back into the dressing room, coaching sessions and change the way we play.

3. (ii) If the above works fine; if not 1 & 2 above must earn their corn and get the right man in Pep or Laurent.

Lloyd Stokes - January 10, 2016 Reply

an excellent read. Sorry to be pedantic but mata for powell was against wolfsburg not bmouth.

John Phelan - January 10, 2016 Reply

superb article & you have nailed it on every level. Scary stuff when you think money men controlling a football club

Eric k - January 10, 2016 Reply

yep no end in sight

Julia Quets - January 10, 2016 Reply

Nailed it. Very nice summation!

Stephen Morrison - January 10, 2016 Reply

Good article. Van gaals comments yesterday after the match irritated me immensely. To blame league one opposition for your cautious approach is just a nonsense…go after them , attack them and scare the life out of them. Its seems though that the philosophy does not allow for this though as van gaal is only about stifling and giving possession greater status than scoring a goal. I think some of the posessoon stuff is a good thing but only with end product but this is a manager who seems to actively discourage even having a shot on goal. It’s a strange situation for a club built on its attacking traditions and whilst we all understand football has moved on and Ferguson was unique in his genius, the situation is unacceptable and to be building a team that is so negative and anaemic not through any other reason than than the strange and misguided approach of one man is depressing to behold….a man who bemoans lack of creativity and goals but let a host of attacking players go …do maria, van persie,Hernandez, nani…Wilson on loan as they clearly did not fit with his philosophy of negativity. A change is needed and needed soon to reverse this frustrating situation and give all us supporters something to cheer for again and excite us again

Ray - January 10, 2016 Reply

Excellent piece since Gill and Fergies departure United have come under the control of the corporate banner no glory just profit

Subterranean Steve - January 10, 2016 Reply

An accurate and timely article, Ed. It’s good to see the various aspects of this sorry saga all brought together.

The appointment of van Gaal ensured that there would be a battle for the hearts and minds of the fans. Football as Art or football as Science? What do you want? Well, we got the mad scientist.

Dazza2501 - January 11, 2016 Reply

Bang on article. After 18 months in charge, there should at least be signs of progress- the “philosophy” taking shape, but no. LVG has bought in players but he has sold more players in terms of numbers, stripping the squad of depth and competition for places. You could tolerate some inconsistency if the play was vibrant with promising youngsters given their chance to cement a place , but the football is slow and predictable, players scared to express themselves, younger players are introduced and dropped again as quickly as they are introduced. LVG needs to go and take that clown Woodward with him. As he seems to prefer clubs with heritage Pep is worth a conversation in case City don’t have his signature and a technical director like Zorc at Dortmund, appointed to negotiate transfers, and oversee the growth of the club on the footballing side, not just the balance sheet. If United don’t want to stagnate, it’s time to be bold and decisive, but I fear doing this would be Woodward and the Glazers admitting failure

Emmyleo balbao - January 11, 2016 Reply

Please why are we disturbing ourselves….the excuse is always the same “its very difficult to break in,somtimes they defend with 10 or 11 men”…. If teams play with 10 or 11 mens,please how many will be defending against the likes of barcelona and bayern,I think 22 will make a sense!…..lols
The only reasonable news that will make sense on united rant this year is when and how manchester united part way with this Old and outdated football scientist…. And I don’t see that coming soon….so all my co-united fan should just sit-back and stay-away from frustration,let’s hope the Glazers realize that without success for the club,there financial stand will be shaken too…

Jonathan Walker - January 11, 2016 Reply

Great piece. A real shame given the optimism on his arrival. WooWoo going nowhere but a director of football is defo required

Mr Uti - January 11, 2016 Reply

excellent piece

Arty Russell - January 11, 2016 Reply

LVG needs to go. Woodward needs to step down from CEO and focus on the sponsorship side of things. He’s very good at that.

DayusDred. - January 11, 2016 Reply

Tank u@opti. It amazes me sometime the kind of reactions i have to read on this platform. Though not quite suprised, same if not worse was said about SAF when he was rebuilding the team btw 2004-07. Schole, Giggs, RVN, R.Keane, Rio with a young Ronaldo, Rooney and Fletcher. United exited the CL @ the group stage scoring only 3goals in six matches and coming last in a grp consisting of Lille, Benfica and villarea. United were humiliated by Boro, Blackburn to mention a few. Bunddled out of FA cup and Carling cup by Leeds and C. Palace respectively. Fergie was chopping and changing looking for the right balance. A lot of supporters including the then captain R. Keane query the the direction of the team. Some even suggested the manager has past it. Carlos the ast. Mgr became a target for introducing the now famous 4 3 3. Who can forget the Keano’s Mtvu rants that never made it to public but utimately ended his career for which he never forgave Fergie. In that infamous interview, he berated Rio and claimed Ronaldo, Rooney, Fletcher were not good enough. Three yrs down the road, these same players were lifting the CL in Moscow. Enough said.

Denton Davey - January 11, 2016 Reply

“Enough said.”

Do you really think that the team (going forward with Martial, Memphis, “Mike”, and Luke Shaw) really contains the potential of its predecessor with Rio, Rooney, Ronaldo, Vidic, Evra, DarrenFletcherinho (before his “football genius” years) as well as seasoned RedInTheMarrow guys like RedNev, Scholes, and Giggs and some spear-carriers like Wesley Brown and John O’Shea ?

If so, I’ll have a double-shot of what you’re having.

DayusDred. - January 12, 2016 Reply

@Denton Davey, may i remind you that Evra and Vidic did not cover themselves in glory when they started out @ United. If i remember correctly they were both subbed of on their debut against city having been run ragged by an average Sinclair. Fletcher was rubished by a lot of supporters as not good enough. Ronaldo was called one trick phony. I will say without any contradiction that Shaw is better player @ his age than RedNev was @ that age. Martial is as good if not better than Ronaldo was @ 20. Depay’s talent is not in doubt if only he will get his acts together and we have a great goal kepper in De gea. Smalling, Damian lingard, Januzaj, Periera, MacNair and other will improve like O’shea, Brown and others did with time.

Denton Davey - January 13, 2016 Reply

I’d like to remind you back again – Vidic was the lynch-pin of the Serbian defence which was considered one of the best in the world; Evra had an awful start to his UTD career against ManShitty but he had already played in the CL final for Monaco; CR7 wowed fans with his opener against Bolton but was terribly inconsistent (kinda like Memphis).

“Smalling, Damian lingard, Januzaj, Periera, MacNair and others will improve” – Not sure about that claim. “Mike” has been very good for the most part; Darmian has been dreadfully average, almost all the time. I’m no fan of Jesse Lingard and don’t know what to make of Januzaj, Pereira, MacNair, and other kids like Borthwick-Jackson, KidWilson, Nick Powell, and Tyler Blackett but I’d be amazed if more than one or two of them can raise their game to the “football genius” level of DarrenFletcherinho or John O’Shea. But if they can then maybe – just maybe – there is light at the end of the tunnel. For sure, though, playing them can’t be worse than persisting with Fellaini !

DayusDred. - January 13, 2016 Reply

@ Denton Davey. My point is it takes time to build a team,it takes time for new players to settle, it takes time for young players to mature and get the consistency required of them. Remember Becham was sent on loan @ the age of 20/ 21, Scholes didnt become a regular until he was 22/23. Darmian had a good start before he dropped in form. I remember RedNev saying he is a better defender than he was. Good thing you noted CR was inconsistent. So these players will improve and consistency will come. With a teak here and there, a new team will emerge. Wether it will be under Lvg or not is yet to be seen but i can asure you these players will form the back bone of that team. The almighty Barca won nothing between 2000- 04 to lay the foundation for the success you see today. That foundation started by a certain LVG who gave Xabi, Inesta, Valdes, and Puyol a chance when Madrid was busy assembling the galaticos.

Denton Davey - January 14, 2016 Reply

I get what you are saying but I’m not as hopeful as you are. My glass is 50% empty.

IF they can sign a Vidic-like central defender (really, any upgrade on Daley Blind so that “Mike” can be #2) and find another gem like Martial then perhaps the contents of your 50% half-full glass might be more palatable.

We live in hope.

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