Premier League Rounds 18 & 19: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

4 of 4

The Ugly

Louis van Gaal and his ever changing demeanor

When Louis van Gaal took over at Manchester United he carried with him that usual bravado, arrogance and stubbornness that he has always had in his career.

He achieved the minimum objective of finishing in the top four last season. The club spent on additions like Morgan Schneiderlin, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Anthony Martial, Memphis and Matteo Darmian which raised the expectations further.

For a while, even though the football was not pleasing to the eye, the results were there. Manchester United were in the thick of the title race and spent the majority of the first half in the top four.

That was before the dark times … before December.

December started with a 0-0 draw at home against West Ham. At the time it was the sixth scoreless draw this season for the Red Devils. Their next match saw them crash out of the Champions League with a 3-2 loss away to Wolfsburg.

Clearly, it was a demoralizing result for the side as they have yet to recover from the disappointment. Next up Manchester United lost 2-1 away to Bournemouth before losing 2-1 at home to Norwich City.

Then the holiday period began. And it did not get any better for the giants of English football.

A trip to Stoke City yielded nothing but a frustrating 2-0 defeat. The Potters dominated the match and could have won by a larger margin.

The pressers after this game featured a different side of van Gaal. He was downtrodden, bereft of confidence and looked genuinely defeated.

His bravado was gone, unsurprisingly, as it had slowly been eroding away as the results worsened. He even brought up the idea that he could simply quit the job before he was sacked.

He seemed a sure bet to be sacked, but he kept his job.

Just two days later Manchester United had a glorious opportunity to grab a win for the first time in a month, but could only manage to hit the crossbar and post against Chelsea.

It ended 0-0 for another scoreless draw.

Van Gaal seemed emboldened by the scoreless draw with relegation-threatened Chelsea in his post-match pressers.

He emphatically stated that he had no reason to quit his post as it was plain to see that his players are still playing for him.

The emotional whiplash is strong with this one. In a matter of days van Gaal went from completely defeated to completely ready to keep going with the job. He jumped across the emotional spectrum because of a 0-0 draw at home against Chelsea.

Let that sink in.

Also, remember that van Gaal is managing Manchester United. 20 times winner of the Premier League. Winners of three European Cups. The trophy case at Old Trafford is overflowing with achievements and history.

Those in charge of Manchester United have to remember what the club is based on. Sure, attacking football is a plus, but I do not think it is an absolute necessity that the Red Devils play the most expansive football you have ever seen.

Sir Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United sides from 2006-07 to 2008-09 won the Premier League three times, reached the Champions League semi-finals three times, beat Chelsea in the Final and lost the other to Barcelona. Two seasons later Manchester United would reach the Champions League Final again.

It was a great era and it was built on Ferguson’s tactical flexibility. He knew when we needed to attack, but he also knew how deadly the team was on the counter-attack.

To escape this ugly, ugly rut Manchester United are in they need to remember that above all else, Manchester United are about winning.

Win with flair, win with youth, win with superstar signings or win with a counter-attacking system. The point is to win.

Manchester United are struggling to win with van Gaal at the helm. Things are getting worse.

What else needs to happen for those in charge to remember that?