Not good enough. Not for a coach with his pedigree, not for a manager with the type of resume Louis van Gaal has. So off with his head? Well not quite. He kind of delivered what his employers set as a minimum goal, or did he? The board expected re-entry into Europe as a minimum goal, however will United actually be in Europe?
Because all they achieved now is the opportunity to play in a 2-leg UEFA Champions League qualifier for the entrance into the UCL group stage proper. You would have to imagine that is the barest minimum achievement, in light of the gargantuan war chest LVG was entrusted with in his first phase of his rebuilding project. So mission not yet accomplished – almost.
Considering United’s schedule this season, in contrast with other genuine title challengers (sorry Liverpool), that were tested on multiple fronts, finishing fourth is a let down. Point in case, Arsenal, who had an extensive FA Cup campaign, will feature in the final at Wembley having knocked United out.
Wegner’s resources were extended with another injury hit season at the Emirates, not as bad as United mind you, but nevertheless they went deep into Europe while LVG had the luxury of focusing mostly on the league, after being unceremoniously knocked out of the League Cup by MK Dons. Arsenal will still finish third, ahead of United in an automatic champ league group qualification spot.
Van Gaal was too slow to make adjustments, too slow for the fierce competition in the EPL, the English game is unforgiving just as Brendan Rodgers said when he sounded a warning to LVG before the season kicked off, very rich coming from the Merseyside’s salesman, but he was right.
Let us not quickly forget Van Gaal was taking over a demoralized red devil squad, having finished in a shambolic seventh position under David Moyes the previous season, however it is now evident that with the required diligence United could have finished second or third. It was not out of reach by any stretch of the imagination. Here are 6 key reasons why Van Gaal’s inaugural season was not as stellar as it could have been.
Meddling with 3-5-2
A carry over from his successful world cup campaign with the Netherlands. The Dutch coach adopted this formation early on due his injury ravaged backline, and the need to protect the starlets he drafted in from the youth squad. The biggest problems with the formation was his wingbacks not being able to adapt to it, often leaving massive space between themselves and midfield. LVG would go on to buy Angel Di Maria with this formation in mind, who actually did great with this formation as one of the midfield three, but once this setup was ditched the Argentine’s form plummeted.
Starving the Squad of Pace Up Front
The arrival of Di Maria and Falcao saw LVG send Chicharito and Nani on loan, while he sold off Welbeck outright. This rid the squad of the much needed pace in dangerous areas as Wayne Rooney, Robin van Persie, and Radamel Falcao were all short of the necessary pace to get behind organized and resolute opposition backlines. They combined for 26 goals, short of the output from rival title contenders. The Falcao loan experiment failed outright, initially it looked like he was the better option than Van Persie who looked well off the pace, but early on Van Gaal kept Falcao on the bench for long periods so we will never know what could have been.
Rooney was shuttled from midfield, to very deep in midfield at times. The captain was tenacious but had a very inconsistent season. LVG always advertised that he wanted Wilson in the side for pace, probably same for Januzaj. However, it became apparent