Where does Van Gaal Go From Here?
As we all know, there aren’t many things worse as a United fan than being defeated by our archrivals. As Van Gaal’s undeforming legion of players trudged off the Anfield pitch, it left the Dutchman wondering where in fact this leaves his long-term future.
Let’s not fool ourselves into thinking the experience of dejection is something new. The Dutchman has surely tiptoed into Old Trafford before fearing that he’d be presented with his marching orders. Especially with Jose Mourinho patiently waiting in the wings for Van Gaal to make the ultimate faux pas so he can swoop in and try and rekindle a relationship with the British media.
If anything, the defeat in the first leg of the Europa tie with Liverpool showed Van Gaal’s United and their tactical deficiencies once more. His rigid style flounders under the ingrained culture of free flowing football in Manchester. It seems like a “square peg going into a round hole” to coin one of Paul Scholes’s very on-point phrases.
Van Gaal is running out of excuses. His relationship with the press is fractured. It somewhat mimics Mourinho’s final months at Stamford Bridge where he was butting heads with a slew of journalists about the most trivial of matters. Van Gaal has very little argument to back up his current predicament. The Dutchman couldn’t even fall back on the card happy Carlos Velasco Carballo as a legitimate excuse midweek, as United struggle to even muster a bone crunching challenge worthy of a derby, against Liverpool.
What does he have to look forward to in the coming weeks after United’s lackluster performance against Jurgen Klopp’s men? Two home Premier League ties against an in-form West Ham side and a beleaguered Crystal Palace followed by the second leg of the Europa League against Liverpool. But more importantly, a derby game against Manchester City awaits Van Gaal on March 21. Lose that game comprehensively and he could be without a job before the season ends.
Whether Van Gaal can steer United to a top four finish in the Premier League remains uncertain. There are too many failing variables at the minute to show any sign of a positive outcome. Take into consideration the growing injury problems at Old Trafford too, and it looks bleak even through the eyes of the most upbeat hardcore fan. Surely not even an 18-year-old can save LVG now?
The transitional stage has gone on for too long, that’s for sure. While the deck certainly needs reshuffling in the summer, it also needs a new dealer at the table.