Man United: Can Van Gaal Really Fit All These Stars Into One Team?
In May 2013, as Fergie hung up his hairdryer to become the world’s most high-end door-to-door book salesmen, few could have predicted the events of the following 14 months or so. The Moyes debacle, United’s annus horribilis, a season in which the fortress that was Old Trafford became a castle made of sand, has been now been consigned to the history books as one which will never be repeated.
Enter Louis van Gaal. King Louis. The Iron Tulip. The jus d'orange. LVG was welcomed with almost Messianic levels of fanfare. A certain degree of expectation, as well as hope, returned to the supporters of this great club. His pre-season was a delight, with a demolition of LA Galaxy succeeded by victories over Madrid and Scousehampton. United fans were salivating at the prospect of a few signings coming in, and an “easy” start to the new season, safe in the hands of the yoghurt-chinned Dutchman.
Yet here we are, three league games in, 2 points on the board, 2 goals scored. Not to mention a battering in the League Cup at the hands of the nomadic vagabonds who make up the MK Dons.
Cast your mind back to the opening fixture last season, as United dismantled Swansea 4-1 and Super Danny Welbeck looked like he’d finally found his scoring boots – it was as if Fergie had never left. Yet in the repeat of the opener this season, United were at sea. One has to wonder what the devil is going on, if LVG, a manager with a trophy haul larger than Nicky Minaj’s derriere, can’t find a win in his first four competitive matches in charge.
It’s not only the results that have been disappointing, but the performances themselves. They have resembled a Sunday league team who only met in the car park fifteen minutes before kick-off and quickly discussed tactics over a Red Bull and a ciggie. Mislaid passes, no pace, unimaginative attacking, and a defence which borders on the endearing because of how infantile it looks.
LVG has, of course, asked for “time”, and admitted that it will take the players a while to adapt to his philosophy. At first, he said it would take 3 months, but has since rescheduled this eureka moment to a years’ time. One can only imagine the outcry if Moyes had made such an assertion. Yes, LVG has cojones the size of Jupiter’s moons and a CV that is embossed in pure gold. Moyes’ lamentable excuse for a résumé bore a stark resemblance to a menu at your favourite greasy spoon, but it is nonetheless worth noting: could LVG’s assertion about needing “time” soon sound as daft and hollow as Mr. Moyes’ earnest belief that United would “try” to make life difficult for opponents coming to OT?
It appears that our Neanderthal forefathers invented the wheel and harnessed the power of fire with more haste than the United team can adapt to a 3-5-2. Does this fault rest with the manager or the players? If Moyes had persisted with a formation that was so glaringly unfathomable to the United team then would he be called out for it by the media and fans? Are United simply going to stockpile players until LVG reverts to a 4-3-3 or 4-4-2? How long will it be before United fans realise that LVG looks *exactly* like Beavis and Butthead’s illegitimate, fat lovechild? Unless he starts chalking up the wins, the questions surrounding this charlatan will soon stack up.
If King Louis continues to use 3-5-2, and United’s players remain as nonplussed by it as they seem, then United have no chance of breaking the top four, let alone reclaiming the title. If this is the case, how long will it be before LVG is asked to explain his actions to the Vampires Glazers? Ed Woodward will be as sheepish as Ai Hin on her due date trying to explain spaffing nearly £200m up the wall on a team which simply cannot click, at the behest of a man who shares a barbers with Professor Frink.
Of course, all of this is mere conjecture, and given LVG’s track record it’s highly likely that things will fall into place sooner or later. But United simply cannot afford to slip behind the pack early on in the season as, before they know it, there will simply be too much ground to make up if they are serious about getting back into the Champions League.
Mourinho looks to have turned Chelsea into the ruthless monster they threatened to be last season, City have a squad that could field two entirely different teams that would both get in the top five, Liverpool continue to play with a pace and verve that United can currently only dream of, and Arsenal, despite Wenger remaining an enigmatic spam-sandwich of a manager, will always be challenging near the top.
Beneath them, Everton have sealed the services of the old-new Didier Drogba on a permanent basis, as well as the just-plain-old Eto’o. Even Spurs have replaced Tim Sherwood with a manager who can actually speak English, so they will be moving in the right direction this season as well.
Of course, United have also had, overall, a good transfer window, though there is still frailty at the back and in the centre of the park. The addition of chubby-funster Shaw, the curious man-child Herrera and the well-bred Daley Blind are all excellent acquisitions but still have some developing to do, whilst in di Maria and Falcao United have captured two bona-fide world class players. The questions is, will LVG have time to make them all fit into his system?
The United faithful believe LVG, given time, is the man who will get them back to the top of English football. For LVG, Rooney and their merry band of gurning non-footballers, that time is now.