People in positions of power, doctors and politicians, usually have a clever way of guarding against bad decisions. You'll often hear them say 'things will get worse before they get better'. It's a phrase Louis van Gaal is fond of.
As soon as they say it, it covers their back should things go wrong. 'Well', they say, 'I told you things would get worse. This is all part of the process. Give me time and I'll turn it around'. If things don't get worse, no one questions it.
When Van Gaal first arrived at Old Trafford he told fans to be patient. Three months was all he needed to embed his philosophy with a broken Manchester United squad. That claim was in July. By the time November rolled around, he changed the expected date of this elusive philosophy to three years.
Not enough time
Three years!? That's as long as his Manchester United contract. He could be out of the job by then. He could even be thinking about retirement. But now, if he does get sacked, he can point to that claim and say that Ed Woodward simply didn't give him enough time.
When you spend £150 million on a host of world-class stars, you would expect a manager of Van Gaal's experience to know exactly where he sees those players fitting in. However, the Dutchman today admitted that he still can't figure out what Manchester United's best formation is.
Searching for balance
Asked if he is any closer to discovering the ideal balance, Van Gaal told reporters: “No, I don’t think so. And that is also the difficulty of the system. I have played now already five or six systems and I am looking still for the balance. But this system [4-1-3-2] is more attractive and I can play with more attacking players.
"That’s the reason I am doing that. In spite of the fact that we are looking for the balance, our results are not bad and our defensive organisation is not bad; we also score a lot of goals. So, I cannot say that I am very disappointed about that.”
Time he doesn't deserve
This was Van Gaal's latest 'get worse before it gets better' moment. How can you expect Manchester United to be doing better when the poor man is still trying to figure out where to put each player? It's nonsense.
A man of his confidence manages to buy time he doesn't deserve with such comments. No one is suggesting he should be sacked. A third place finish would be a satisfactory performance, but should things turn sour Van Gaal can't hide behind these frivolous claims.