Nothing chills the blood more than the icy cold blast of history to make you realise this has happened before. As Manchester United stand on the crest of a slump not witnessed since the late sixties, the club hierarchy appear more concerned with protecting their own interests, reputations and egos rather than doing what is right for both the supporters and football club.
That Louis Van Gaal remains in his position after producing a team that plays the most boring, sterile-negative football ever witnessed at Old Trafford. Out of the Champions league and dropping down the table like a stone can only be down to the fact somebody behind the scenes must have his back.
But they certainly don’t have the best interest of Manchester United at heart. Step forward Ed Woodward.
After the disastrous David Moyes era, incidentally history may reconsider those ill tempestuous months as decent times if the current situation continues. Woodward simply cannot afford to be made to look a failure with a second calamitous appointment. That he excels in the commercial department for his Glazer paymasters. Extremely skilled in sticking the United brand on anything that moves or doesn’t cannot be debated, but Woodward appears so out of his depth in the football world as to resemble a blind man attempting to land a helicopter on an aircraft carrier.
Albeit, temporarily for a short spell last season, Van Gaal appeared to be the real deal as wins over Spurs, Liverpool and Manchester City in swift succession raised hopes that this man who walked the walk and talked the talk could actually deliver where it mattered most. On the pitch. But then all went sour as United ended the season by reverting to type and performing in such stagnant style that they stunk the self-proclaimed Theatre of dreams out.
Same this campaign. Never in the club’s post war history has there been such unease and indeed distaste with the football being served up. Suddenly as it all unravelled and lucky 1-0 wins turned into 0-0’s and then a machine gun rattle of defeats, Van Gaal’s much discussed ‘philosophy’ has in my opinion been exposed as a fraud. One that appeared to change and suit events as they went along. Incidentally it hasn’t been mentioned since the wheels have come off. As for it’s footballing merits, there doesn’t appear to be any. The super confidence-arrogance of this Dutchman’s belief that he could walk into Old Trafford and turn it into an experiment for Insomnia. This an arena that demands and cries out for attacking football. For drama and excitement. He’s all but succeeded in turning it into a morgue. The ultimate respite from United supporters not one of anger but more despair and even worse, becoming resigned to mediocrity beyond words and lost all reason to believe. In short he’s knocked the stuffing out of them, such has been the drab, dreary, diatribe constantly served up.
And yet as even birds refuse to fly over old Trafford on match days, Van Gaal remains on the throne. Pontificating that he still has the full backing from his board and even Sir Alex Ferguson has rang him to offer support. Why Ferguson hasn’t knocked on the manager’s door and had a word is weirdly inexplicable. The same man whom despite now being viewed in a fresh light by many reds since the Glazer betrayal, would always chase a game to the very end by throwing everything forward in the Old Trafford armoury in an attempt to win it. Whereas Van Gaal’s stifled United, even with the clock approaching the once feared ‘Fergie time’ continue to pass and pass with seemingly no urgency. Just an inherited fear of giving the ball away or god forbid take a risk and beat a man by moving from their set positions.
Welcome to footballing hell.
When Sir Matt Busby retired a series of miserable, managerial appointments over six years culminated in relegation. These days there appears little chance of that occurring, more a slow, painful limp into the obscurity that now infects Liverpool and their twenty year plus, desperate quest to regain former glories. It was Tommy Docherty back then with a quick fix that breathed life back into the fallen mancunian giants. The 1977 FA cup victory over an all-conquering Liverpool appeared to signal a new red dawn rising. That Docherty’s reign then ended in controversial style for personal reasons doesn’t hide the fact that, if only for a short time he ignited fire and flames and offered renewed hope to United supporters.
There’s a man out there now, sat waiting for the call from Old Trafford. One equally as colourful as Docherty and although there can be no doubt Jose Mourinho will cause world war three once installed on the United throne, life will become infinitely more interesting. That Mourinho possesses the same negative philosophy as Van Gaal is a myth. Undoubtedly his dark side will see him kill games if needed, raise tempers and court controversy when events on the field go awry. But the man is a winner and wasn’t there someone not so long ago on the old Trafford touchline raging red murder when required? Despite the official Manchester United bible Ferguson was no saint and it’s time for someone of similar ilk to begin serious surgical precision. Not this time to call the doc, but Jose, before one last yawn and falling asleep, only to wake and find we’ve turned into Liverpool.
Can you think of anything worse?