Manchester United boss Louis van Gaal is a bit of a relic of football days gone by. He is a veteran boss and much like other veteran bosses in the twilight career he is doing his best grumpy old man impression.
The Dutchman was true to form in his post-match interview after the Red Devils 3-0 defeat at Tottenham on Sunday, trying his best to state that United are still a bigger club than Spurs.
History may state that United have won more trophies, but Tottenham look far more likely to achieve success in the immediate future.
A bit like Van Gaal’s managerial methods, the Red Devils look like they could be confined to history if the Dutchman stays at the club for much longer.
Introducing youngsters into the team
Louis van Gaal has a history of promoting young players at his former clubs, with the major example coming at Ajax, when Van Gaal used the likes of Patrick Kluivert, Edgar Davids and Clarence Seedorf to great effect to win the Champions League in 1995.
The problem for Van Gaal is that that particular group of young players were exceptional and Ajax has a reputation for producing top young players. The current group of United youngsters cannot even be compared with the players in that Ajax team.
Very little talent has come through the United youth ranks since the class of ’92. The likes of Marcus Rashford, Cameron Borthwick-Jackson and Timothy Fosu-Mensah may become decent players, but the likelihood of those players coming anywhere near those Ajax players or the former United contingent looks slim.
However, the youngsters have been slightly forced upon Van Gaal because of injuries and recent signings not being good enough to move United forward. In some ways that is down to the Dutchman, as he has had nearly two years to strengthen his squad and has arguably bought poorly.
Out-of-touch with the game
There comes a time when a manager needs to realise he is out-of-touch with the game. Van Gaal has tried to use his old methods, but in truth the amount of money that has been spent and the time he has been at United the Red Devils should be title contenders. Instead they are barely clinging on to fifth in the Premier League table.
For much of the campaign United’s style of play was ponderous and dull. The introduction of the younger players has led to slightly more adventurous football, but United are relying on the likes of Rashford, Lingard and Anthony Martial, who is still only 20, to rescue them is not good enough.
An experienced boss can bring success, just look at Claudio Ranieri at Leicester, but not one who is as stubborn and egotistical as Van Gaal. Everything has to be done his way and maybe his way is no longer effective at the top level.
United appointed Van Gaal because the club hierarchy believed him to be a similar sort of character to Sir Alex Ferguson. In some ways he is, but the legendary Scot managed to keep abreast of the game and adapt at times when needed. Van Gaal is not malleable at all. He is just far too set in his ways.
United attempted to appoint a younger boss in David Moyes prior to Van Gaal’s appointment and obviously that was a disaster. However, not all younger bosses would be so out of their depth or produce such poor results.
There are younger bosses out there that have proven their ability to produce results at the highest level. Chelsea have just appointed a younger boss in Antonio Conte who has enjoyed immense success in his managerial career already.
New City boss Pep Guardiola and former-Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho have also enjoyed very successful managerial careers and are in their forties or early fifties.
There are bosses’ out there who have a far better understanding of the modern game and that is why Van Gaal’s position at United is in question. The Dutchman has been successful in the past, but in football things change very quickly and the United boss has refused to accept that.
Still chasing a top four spot
Louis van Gaal’s team are now outsiders to claim a Champions League spot for next season at odds of 7/2. They lost ground on Manchester City over the weekend and it has got to stage were United fans would be happy just to make the top four this season.
However, Van Gaal was brought in to challenge for the title. Nearly two seasons and a huge amount of cash spent later and the team is little better than it was when David Moyes left the club.
In truth, if United win the FA Cup and finish in fourth then this season would have to be declared a success, but only because quite frankly the boss and the current group of players are not good enough to challenge for the Premier League title.
Should Louis van Gaal leave United at the end of the season?