Louis van Gaal’s latest setback as Manchester United manager came at the hands of Danish minnows FC Midtyjlland, and it was nothing to do with ‘Murphy’s Law’.
Van Gaal’s latest excuse is doing little to mask the fact that he’s rapidly losing control at Old Trafford.
Beaten by a side that was formed during United’s treble winning 1999 season, this was a new low for the former Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Netherlands head coach.
In all honesty, it’s never looked like happening for LVG at Man Utd, ever since taking over after a successful 2014 World Cup with his native country.
Here’s five (this list could have been endless) of the main reasons it’s all gone tits up:
Style Of Play
We start with the biggest bug bear of them all.
Man United fans have enjoyed 20 years of Alex Ferguson’s brand of football – a quick, incisive style played at a high tempo that excites the fans.
But under LVG, the love for possession has taken over.
It seems like every pass goes sideways or backwards and only when it’s absolutely safe to do so, does anyone try a through ball or to take a man on.
If United tried that penalty, Rooney would pass to Martial, who'd then pass it to Carrick, then on to Smalling and back to De Gea.
— John Ashton (@thedoveman1982) February 14, 2016
With 25 years managerial experience, you’d think the Dutchman would know you can’t win a game by having 70% possession – it’s basic stuff.
The dire style has predictably led to a lack of goals – Man Utd have failed to score in five of their 12 home games this season, while playing out no less than four 0-0 draws at Old Trafford.
The shackles came off against Stoke City and Newcastle United though, so there’s proof that not every ounce of excitement has been sucked out of the Red Devils – yet.
It’s well documented that LVG has spent over £250m on new players since 2014 and to be brutally honest, none of them are good enough.
Perhaps that’s slightly harsh on Anthony Martial, who could become a top player once he’s played in his natural position.
But the others have been truly shite.
Marcos Rojo, Memphis Depay, Sergio Romero and Bastian Schweinsteiger have all been awful since arriving at Old Trafford and given the treatment of Victor Valdes, there’s more than a hint of a man management problem with van Gaal.
But undoubtedly the biggest fuck up was the signing of Angel Di Maria.
The Argentine is one of the best wingers in the world and has been for some time, so there was plenty of excitement when he signed for £60m in 2014.
But van Gaal played him at left wing-back in a 3-5-2 formation, before switching him to a number 10 role. Unsurprisingly, it didn’t work and Di Maria was sold to PSG a year later – where he has rediscovered top form.
Destroying one of the world’s best players like that should have proved a sackable offence but LVG survived and the viewers of Match Of The Day have suffered as a result.
When van Gaal arrived at Man Utd off the back of a successful World Cup campaign with Holland, he had a clear formation in mind.
Using a 3-5-2 formation with his national team had worked as the Netherlands reached the last four in Brazil, playing some OK (hardly inspiring – they scored two very late goals to beat Mexico in the quarter-finals) football.
The likes of Daryl Janmaat and Daley Blind played the key wing-back positions well, and it was obvious van Gaal wanted to use the same system in the Premier League, despite never having experienced the pace and tempo of it before.
Man United didn’t have the players to fit the formation.
Then he signed Di Maria, who didn’t fit into the formation. Basic shit that, Louis.
Ironically, the season after Di Maria left, van Gaal switched to a 4-3-3 formation (the one where Di Maria has built a reputation as one of the world’s best wingers) but he has problems still, with Martial out of position on the left wing and Wayne Rooney struggling for top form down the middle.
Should LVG get another transfer window (he probably won’t), he’d be best advised to pick a formation and sign players accordingly, which you’d think a 64-year-old veteran would know himself but whatever.
He’s As Stubborn As A Mule
One thing that everyone hates after a team has lost is the manager coming out and making excuses.
Look at Jurgen Klopp. Liverpool lose and he comes out and says ‘we were shit’ and everyone loves him because he was honest.
Not van Gaal.
He has a history of not getting on with the media. It’s what made him leave Barcelona and again you’d think a man of his experience would have looked at the English press and knew what he was letting himself in for.
But instead, he makes excuses week after week and sounds like a man in denial. He even shoved a cameraman and called a journalist fat for fuck’s sake.
A bit of humility would go a long way to keeping the press from calling for your head, Louis, but you’ve ballsed it up now.
No Fan Backing
All the problems above and more have resulted in the Manchester natives losing faith with their team, and fairly so.
The atmosphere at Old Trafford is crap and the football does nothing to improve it, rendering van Gaal’s position virtually untenable.
They’ve even come up with some funny chanting to amuse themselves while they’re getting beat in the Europa League – by a team with less than 5% of their budget.
With Jose Mourinho out of work and interested in the United job in the summer, van Gaal’s time could – and definitely should – be up in England.