Football: Judging van Gaal

Football: Judging van Gaal
Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal

When he succeeded "dithering Dave" Moyes at Manchester United, Louis van Gaal insisted on being judged after three months.

Well, it's been three months. How does the Dutchman measure up in the most high-profile managerial job in world sport? Here are three key strengths and weaknesses.



For a few, brief moments against Everton, everything clicked. There was a glimmer of expectation, a sneak peek into a bright future.

United roared once more, utilising the width, attacking at pace and delivering the hypnotic, hyper-kinetic football that was once patented at Old Trafford.

Angel di Maria was mischief-maker in chief, scoring his third goal and achieving his third assist.

Radamel Falcao threatened for the first time and Daley Blind was a belligerent presence in midfield.

It was a sign of more enlightened times and the first, clear indication of van Gaal's attacking intent.

With their defence, United are never going to win Rear of the Year but, when they go forward, you can't take your eyes off them.


Without getting too Freudian, Moyes was clearly intimidated by superior talents. He displayed all the tell-tale signs of an insecure office boss aware that his underlings knew more about their profession than he did.

So he sought to bring them down to his level, by telling them to watch Everton videos and sending them on, patronising training drills usually associated with pub sides.

But van Gaal is a man among men in the superstar stakes. He could hardly care less about the name on the back on the jersey. They deliver for the name on the front or he drops them like a bad habit.

He wasn't fazed by salary terms or contract stipulations or how many shirts could be shifted in Japan.

Shinji Kagawa, Wilfried Zaha, Danny Welbeck and Tom Cleverley were all shown the door. Expect many more, led by Marouane Fellaini, to join them in January.


Unlike Moyes, van Gaal has faced down the media and dismissed them with a mix of indifference and contempt not seen since Sir Alex Ferguson.

Unlike Moyes, he took on his own boardroom, demanding fewer overseas trips to Mickey Mouse exhibitions and greater emphasis placed on focused pre-season training.

Unlike Moyes, he defied the status quo and suggested that existing training facilities were not up to his standard (a breathtakingly bold claim considering the success that these facilities had nurtured during the Ferguson era).

Unlike Moyes, he treats his players as experienced, athletic artists who need their unique skills harnessed rather than replaced with rudimentary tactics and unproductive stamina drills.

In three months, he has achieved something priceless, something that was always beyond Moyes. He has won back the dressing room.

Manchester United players feel like they have a Manchester United manager again.

More about

Louis Van Gaal
Purchase this article for republication.



Your daily good stuff - AsiaOne stories delivered straight to your inbox
By signing up, you agree to our Privacy policy and Terms and Conditions.