Louis van Gaal’s Three Major Mistakes at Manchester United


Manchester United fans aren’t particularly happy with Louis van Gaal. And with single match where United fail to win, the frustration grows. Already dumped out of the Champions League, the Red Devils are winless in their last five matches in all competitions and are slowly losing their grip in the title race.

More than anything else, United fans aren’t particularly happy with the style of football being implemented by the Dutchman. It’s been one dimensional, possession based football with sterile sideways passing, and pretty boring to watch. Many argue that Van Gaal is here for short term to do a job and he only cares about the result and nothing else. But why it has to be boring? And the fans have every reasons to vent frustrations with the results not going in United’s way at the moment.

The worst part is the manager himself admits the fans should not expect too much from United. He said in a recent interview:

“No. It is difficult. You (the media) want to raise the expectations. We shall do everything to win something but it is very difficult.

“For the fans it shall be like that. But I want to manage the expectation. It is not as easy as everybody thinks.

“You can see what is happening in the Premier League every week. It is not so easy. You have to analyse the club as it is now. You cannot compare it with 10 years ago, because there is an evolution in football and in European football.”

Van Gaal took charge of a club that won the Premier League title two seasons ago. He has been backed with cash and has spent over £250m on transfers. This is certainly not the excuse the fans would want to hear.

He has made mistakes this summer, and United are facing its consequences. Let us take a look at some of his major mistakes:

Should have done better in the Summer transfer window  

I personally think, United did OK in the summer transfer window. They addressed their weaknesses by signing good players at the right positions where needed. They got rid of unwanted players and had a very good net spend as well. But it could have been lot better. Instead of going for big name signings (ready to pay £80-90 odd for Ronaldo or Bale) and wasting too much time on unrealistic targets (Ramos & Dani Alves) – United could have signed few more utility players on cheap to improve the squad depth.

Selling Javier Hernandez was a huge mistake. A lot has been said about Chicharito being a dying-breed and doesn’t bring the qualities a modern day striker adds to a team, but there’s no denying the fact that he is a great goal scorer and a proven game changer. While United are struggling to score (which is an irony in itself) the Mexican is scoring for fun at Bayer Leverkusen. He has scored 15 goals in Bayer Leverkusen’s last 12 games, and 17 in all competitions.

Playing players out of position & Herrera conundrum 

Van Gaal seems to be a very rigid and a stubborn manager. He has kept faith with Wayne Rooney upfront, when the England skipper hasn’t been at his best as a lone striker for the last few years. Also, using Juan Mata on the wings was a poor decision. It took him months to realise the Spaniard is wasted on the flanks and that the #10 role suits him perfectly.

He also seems to have a trust issue with Ander Herrera, arguably United’s most creative attacking midfielder. Whenever Herrera has played with freedom, he has been simply brilliant. But for reasons unknown, the Spaniard has been underused by Van Gaal. Likewise, Ashley Young has done well in the full back role when asked to do the job, but surprisingly he has been omitted and overlooked at a time when United’s defence is going through a major injury crisis.

Failure to address United’s set piece problems  

How many times this season have United conceded goals through set pieces? I have lost count. Probably it’s time for Van Gaal to beef up on the set piece drills. Against Bournemouth, United conceded two goals from set pieces of different variety, the second one especially was an extra-embarrassing type.

Having said that it is really difficult to judge a manager in the middle of the season – once the season ends or even better, once he leaves then only we can look back and try to determine what he got right and what he got wrong. There are counter arguments to all the points I made above while those may turn out to be true in the long run. We have to wait and see.

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