If you ordered for an expensive meal at a luxury restaurant and when the food arrives, it turns out to be a poorly made imitation of what you expected, what would you do? Well, it is kind of similar to the situation Manchester United fans and board is facing right now with their manager, Louis Van Gaal.
The gale of enthusiasm that accompanied his appointment 18 months ago has dissipated completely. Instead it has been gradually replaced by the harsh maelstrom of discontent, one laced by defiance, that kind of child-to-parent defiance that comes from been gagged for too long by respect and deference.
At the beginning of his tenure, the Dutchman regularly spiced his press conferences with references to a much vaunted philosophy, one that bordered an impressive resume that included title-winning tenures with the likes of Ajax, Barcelona and Bayern Munich.
Currently, those assertions ring hollow. As it stands, United fans cannot be blamed for insolence. While some may argue that the Red Devils’ fans have been gorged and indulged with a surfeit of attacking football especially during what now turns out to be the golden era of Alex Ferguson, they certainly deserve better than bare and bland brand of football that is been served these days at Old Trafford.
Even during the gaunt, grim days of David Moyes, there was some modicum of impetus, a desire to attack, to win games. Whether it is due to not having a consistent line-up, a spine on which the framework of a title-chasing/challenging team is built is subject to conjecture.
What riles the United faithful further is the manager’s recalcitrance. While games against the likes of Watford (2-1 away) and West Brom (2-0) were won, the mien of the victories felt pyrrhic.
For the game against the Baggies, the Red Devils registered a miserly 3 shots on target, with two resulting in goals. Given that the third shot on target was Juan Mata’s penalty in the 90th minute, it says quite a lot about the attacking impetus of the team.
It’s quite damning to note that David De Gea earned a large chunk of the praise for both victories due to his outstanding shot-stopping ability. He remains arguably United’s best performer in a season that has also seen the shocking decline of Wayne Rooney. More shocking is Van Gaal’s continued perseverance with the England captain as well as stultifying the immense attacking talents of Anthony Martial by shunting him to the flanks.
A 1-0 win over CSKA Moscow was labored, slow and unimaginative. The Red Devils’ most potent attacking force, Anthony Martial was curiously withdrawn for Mouarane Fellaini, a change that provoked audible murmurs of a mutinous hue.
That action in itself lent credence to the fact that Van Gaal had lost the goodwill and confidence of the fans, his primary constituency. Although he still retains the confidence of the Ed Woodward led board, it remains to be seen how long this goodwill will last.
Were a ruthless majority shareholder at the helm of this board (ahem, Roman Abramovich, Florentino Perez), Van Gaal would have surely been given the Pink slip by now.
Saying that doesn’t mean the sword of Damocles won’t still fall on his head sooner than later. Having spent considerable sums in the purchase of players, many of whom are attacking talents, surely the fans deserve some form of entertainment.
Instead what they get for about £250m worth of talent over 3 transfer windows now, are games so insipid and boring that many fear fans could actually die from what are bore-fests.
The jury is no longer out; Louis Van Gaal should go, along with his philosophy and intransigence because it is clear that onwards, Manchester United are only going to be getting more of the same.