Manchester United’s troubles this season are down to manager Louis van Gaal struggling with the job and being unable to get the players to implement the style of football he likes to play.
That is according to former Netherlands international Ronald de Boer, who believes that the Old Trafford boss needs more time to find the winning formula and have his players carry out his instructions the way he wants them to.
Saturday saw United fall to a 2-1 defeat at the hands of Swansea City at the Liberty Stadium, a defeat which meant they dropped into fourth place and were leapfrogged by rivals Arsenal.
Liverpool’s win away to Southampton stopped the Red Devils falling out of Champions League places, but the defeat was the worrying culmination of a series of very poor performances. Results were covering up the displays before Saturday, but it felt like Van Gaal’s luck running out.
De Boer agreed that results were not reflecting how poorly Manchester United were actually playing for the past few weeks and believes that his countryman was being frustrated in attempts to have the team playing in his image.
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"Van Gaal is struggling a little bit at Manchester United,” the former Barcelona star told talkSPORT.
“Not with the amount of points he's got, but with his style. It's not the way he wants to play. He's fighting to get there. At the moment it's not the football that we are used to with Louis.”
He Knows Him Well
De Boer was one of the key members of Van Gaal’s Champions League winning Ajax team in 1995 and was also signed, along with twin brother Frank, by the United boss when he was in charge of Barcelona in 1998, so he knows the style well.
It would be difficult for anyone to argue that Manchester United had been playing sufficiently well since the former Netherlands coach took over after leading Oranje to third place at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
However, it should not be difficult to admit that Van Gaal has failed miserably to live up to his reputation as one of Europe’s leading managers. The Old Trafford moneymen backed him up last summer with a spending spree in excess of £150million.
With players such as £60million summer arrival Angel di Maria, Juan Mata, Wayne Rooney, Robin van Persie and deadline day loan signing Radamel Falcao at his disposal, Van Gaal has only been able to produce stodgy attacking displays.
Rooney in midfield has been persisted with for months, despite there being specialists for that position in the squad. Mata is one, but Ander Herrera and Adnan Januzaj are capable, not to mention Di Maria.
The ultimate embarrassment for fans of the club is the regularity with which they are seeing Marouane Fellaini sent up front and the style changed to a long ball approach, as the club desperately search for a way back into matches. It is not the United way.
Time Is Running Out
Swansea may be a blip and they will get back to winning ways, or at least not-losing ways, they had only suffered one defeat in 19 before the match, but the nature of their play means it will not be a huge surprise if they spiral off out of the top four with a run of bad results.
Van Gaal came with his reputation boosted by the World Cup and a lot was expected of him, but he has failed to deliver so far. Unless something changes quickly, he does not look like doing any better than his much-maligned predecessor, David Moyes.
Will Louis van Gaal turn things around at Manchester United? Or is he going to just repeat the same mistakes as David Moyes? Let us know by joining the debate below…