Sunday 23 October 2016

Van Gaal plans are unravelling before our eyes

Manchester United's manager Louis van Gaal
Manchester United's manager Louis van Gaal

It's never less than fascinating to watch a man of great certainty hit a brick wall of negative public opinion. Louis van Gaal's plans are unravelling and Man U legends are all crying.

Paul Scholes is, by his standards, yowling from the rooftops and he's the credible face of a wave of antipathy towards van Gaal's football by numbers.

His record and personality allow Scholes a unique platform. He's Roy Keane without the spleen but his words have more weight and he is worshipped by Manchester United fans for still being one of them.

He's not one of them, of course. He must be on a serious wedge from Paddy Power for his column and he is adding to a huge pile he accumulated without fuss or noise during a gilded career partnership with Alex Ferguson with his television work.

Like Keane, he showed disdain for any interaction with the media while he was a player but he has taken to his new career as a pundit with some relish and doesn't mince his words.

He's also pals with Ryan Giggs and Gary Neville, Old Trafford's Jedi knights, and there's a 2/1 chance according to one of Scholes' employers, that the empire will indeed strike back and a paid-up member of Fergie's golden generation will manage Manchester United when the Dutchman leaves.

That creates a conflict of interest for Scholes but such small details didn't stop Neville critiquing English players every Monday night in front of a live audience and then meeting up with the same lads in the England international camp.


And to be fair to Scholes, he hasn't stepped beyond the bounds of the pundit's role. He is telling it as is. Van Gaal has removed a lot of the glamour and swashbuckle from Manchester United fans's lives.

There is revisionism at work, which paints Ferguson's brand of football as endlessly entertaining when we all remember the drudge of dark December nights in icy Champions League arenas when his players hacked out what was needed.

But by the time Christmas came, Ferguson was ready to light his players up and he did; season after season.

It's hard to see van Gaal (left) lighting anything up. He has spent enough money to build a couple of power stations but without any spark of improvement to show for it.

What was once authority now seems like spoofing and bluster. The facts he used to claim that his team is better now than it was last season may be accurate but every other club is in much worse shape so he's setting the bar low.

Van Gaal is being judged against a period of rampant success and for all his assertions of progress, it is very difficult to buy his increasingly plaintive requests for patience or his habit of throwing a few players to the wolves, Bastian Schweinsteiger the current victim.

He's like Giovanni Trapattoni that way. The Italian believed in his method and when it didn't work,. the problem had to be the players. He hung them out to dry after every game in Poland. It was sad to watch.

But he believed in his method because it gave him a remarkable career and he refused to contemplate anything else, even when it was clear his way was the wrong way.

Sounds a lot like Louis.

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