Van Gaal has done worse than Moyes

Van Gaal has done worse than Moyes
Manchester United's manager Louis van Gaal.

At this stage last season, Manchester United fans were calling for David Moyes' head but the fact is Louis van Gaal has a record that is even worse and the only thing saving the Dutchman from being savaged is his reputation.

After the first nine English Premier League games last season, Moyes' Red Devils had 14 points and had played against top sides like Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester City.

But van Gaal's men have one point less and duelled with only one big team - Chelsea, with whom they drew 1-1 on Sunday.

It is also the club's worst start since the 1989-90 season when they had nine points after the first nine games.

In hindsight, perhaps, you have to feel some sympathy for Moyes, given that his successor has fared worse but is enjoying popularity.

Another criticism levelled at Moyes was his negative tactics but it's not as if United are playing free-flowing, attacking football now under the new boss.

Against Chelsea, they were going for long balls and crosses - a far cry from the swashbuckling style under Alex Ferguson.

Yet, we don't see the British media or Red Devils fans calling for van Gaal's head, despite the big money that has been splashed on new signings like Angel di Maria (£66 million or S$135 million), Ander Herrera (£31.6m), Marcos Rojo (£17.6m) and Daley Blind (£15.4m).

In fact, Ferguson, who stayed silent throughout Moyes' ill-fated reign, came out and defended the Dutchman, saying he has the qualities to "get it right".

One supposes that van Gaal's CV, which includes coaching Barcelona and Bayern Munich to league titles and guiding Ajax to Champions League victory in 1995, is buying him more time and patience with the owners than Moyes, who had won nothing in 11 years with Everton.

Yes, van Gaal is building a new team with many new foreign players and that takes time, compared to Moyes who inherited a title-winning squad from Ferguson.

Foreign imports always take time to adapt to the physical style of English football, and I know for a fact how difficult it is for even one or two new signings to blend into the team.

But the man they call the Iron Tulip needs to rebuild and deliver results - fast.

The lack of Champions League football this season can work in his favour as it will buy him more time.

They can concentrate fully on the EPL and the manager can focus on putting his signature - that of high-tempo, attacking football - on the team.

I believe United will be the side to watch after the New Year when the players have had time to gel as a team and form partnerships all over the pitch.

In fact, I tip them for a top-four finish.

With the exception of Chelsea and Manchester City, teams like Arsenal, Liverpool and Tottenham are inconsistent and have struggled this season.

United have also showed flashes of the type of football van Gaal's teams are famous for.

Given the quality of the manager and the players, they are more than capable of turning things around.

stsports@sph.com.sg

 


This article was first published on October 28, 2014.
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