If Louis van Gaal is fed up with hearing criticism from Manchester United legends like Paul Scholes and Rio Ferdinand it is because the truth hurts.
But however the Manchester United manager wishes to skew his perception of the status quo, he will find it increasingly difficult to argue with the facts.
After almost two years at the helm, Manchester United are sixth in the league, Van Gaal’s team is out of The Champions League and no closer to a winning formula than when David Moyes left the club – despite the outlay of a quarter of a billion pounds, or thereabouts.
Some may call it defeatist to suggest that United’s Europa League hopes went out of the window with the defeat at Anfield.
Indeed, in times past, a 2-0 deficit would not have been insurmountable.
But that was before the spirit of Manchester United was so badly drained by a coach who seems stuck in the past and unwilling to adapt his methods to the modern game. The Dutchman has asked the team to forget about tradition. Forget about the way that this great club has always played and start from scratch with a possession-based system that ignores the level of dynamism and speed in the game these days.
TFF has to concur with Scholes when he said that there was no obvious plan in United’s performance against Liverpool on Thursday evening. They couldn’t get the ball and when they did they appeared to resort to route one football. Scholes said after the game:
“Liverpool had a way of playing. United didn’t have a clue.”
“Manchester United should be competing to win the Premier League and Champions League every season,” said Scholes.
“They have spent £300m and they are sixth in the league. They have ended up in the Europa League after failing in a poor Champions League group. They should be competing with Barcelona, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich.
“The last thing I want for Manchester United is to be happy with finishing fourth and winning the FA Cup. That’s what Arsenal do.”
In his post-match conference a typically stubborn Van Gaal said that he had already explained why Manchester United couldn’t cope with Liverpool’s high press. But nowhere in his interview did he actually describe WHY they couldn’t cope, just that they couldn’t cope.
And, for us, this represents a classic case of a proud man who doesn’t have the answer. And however long Ed Woodward persists with him, it’s not going to change.
If you want a perfect example of a man out of his depth at the club, then you need look no further than Van Gaal’s decision to play Fellaini over Carrick in a young team in a massive European tie away at Anfield. If there was ever a game made for the experience and talents of Carrick as the anchor man, this was it. Instead he was hurriedly rushed on at half-time. To play in defence!
Having Louis van Gaal at the helm of Manchester United is like asking Bryan Robson to step into the United midfield at 45 and lead them to victory. Just because Robson was a United great doesn’t mean he could lead them effectively in his forties.
And we get a similar sense with Van Gaal. He used to be a great coach but he’s no longer a great coach. Let’s not forget that more than 20 years have passed since he last mastered Europe. You simply can’t put him in the same category as the current top coaches in the world. The likes of Simeone, Mourinho, Guardiola and Conte are in a completely different league. They are masters of the modern game rather than pioneers of the past.
Van Gaal has to go now and so does the clumsy Ed Woodward who has backed the wrong horse twice and, worse still, failed to see admit to his mistake early enough to avoid disaster.
If Jose Mourinho had been brought in in December we feel confident that United would be home and hosed for a top four place already. But Woodward’s indecision has arguably set Manchester United back at least another year.
It’s time for both to go.