How much longer does Louis van Gaal have at Manchester United?
The Dutchman had a reasonable first season at Old Trafford, leading the club back into the Champions League. However, the start to his second season hasn't been anything to shout about.
Even in his first season, results weren't great and being knocked out of the domestic cups at early stages, including the 4-0 humiliation at MK Dons, whilst shocking, were not too harshly counted as Van Gaal was only just settling in and fans were willing to give the gaffer time.
Now, however, is a different story. After 50 games at the club, Van Gaal has won just as many games as David Moyes did after he reached the 50 game milestone (27 wins). If this is anything to go by, Van Gaal could be sacked before January. In summary, the results side of Van Gaal's United career have been extremely average, if not disappointing.
An amalgamation of problems in Van Gaal's reign have led to the writing of this article, one of them being fall outs with players. Big name players such as Radamel Falcao, Javier Hernandez, Angel di Maria, David de Gea and, more recently, Marcos Rojo have all reportedly had arguments with Van Gaal.
Some fans want him out as they feel that he's unsettling players at the club. Underlining this is the way he has dealt with Victor Valdes.
Valdes, a model professional, returned from injury after training with United, and took the first-team goalie gloves after De Gea picked up an injury. The World Cup-winning Spaniard played well and so it was a massive shock when Van Gaal stripped Valdes of a squad number, squad suit and his first-team place in pre-season.
The ex-Barcelona shot-stopper had been touted as the perfect replacement for De Gea so it came as a shock when he was forced to give up his gloves for the inexperienced Sam Johnstone on United's pre-season tour of the USA.
And now Johnstone's place in the team looks to be in jeopardy after his agent said the following this week.
"Sam just wants to play football but Manchester United are holding him back and not even playing him," he was quoted as saying by the Daily Mail. "He is a young goalkeeper and it is time for him to play regularly. If that is not at Manchester United, then it has to be elsewhere. This is an example of young English talent being held back by Van Gaal."
It's clear that Van Gaal is not the most popular figure with his players and one could argue that personality doesn't matter if the results are good; but after spending over a quarter of a billion pounds in 13 months, even a die-hard Manchester United fan couldn't argue that the results live up to the standards that Manchester United should be reaching.
Fans losing faith?
So what next? Well, the hashtag "#VanGaalOut" has already been trending on social media. This has come about from player-manager fall-outs, poor results and even poorer business in the transfer market.
Fan favourites have been sold without being given a chance. A good example of this is Rafael, who Van Gaal never tried at right-back, even when Antonio Valencia had a particularly poor season.
Rafael was frozen out of the first-team squad and United fans were enraged by this. Ultimately, the Brazilian picked up a big injury and trained with the Under-21 squad but he was never given a chance at United under the Dutch boss, just like Chicharito.
The players bought in by Van Gaal this summer were, according to most analysts, fans and angry people on social media, "too old," "not what we needed" or "unheard of".
United were crying out for a striker and still are, but bought in young, virtually unknown AS Monaco striker Anthony Martial in on deadline day for a deal supposedly rising to £58 million including bonuses.
Problems remain unsolved
Don't doubt Van Gaal when he claims that Martial has pace and bags of potential but one can argue that for that money, the Red Devils could have purchased two Alexis Sanchez' or a proven striker in Robert Lewandowski or Edinson Cavani, not an attacker who has a shot conversion rate of 20%.
A defender was a player that United craved but Van Gaal was adamant that United were strong enough in the heart of defence, underlining this by selling Jonny Evans and loaning Tyler Blackett to Celtic.
Aymeric Laporte, Mats Hummels, Sergio Ramos and Raphael Varane were all linked with Manchester United but none made the switch, snubbing a move in favour of their big-money contracts at their huge foreign clubs.
To conclude, Van Gaal's time may be nearing an end at Old Trafford and his departure will only be accelerated if he continues to fall out with players and spend poorly, whilst struggling with results.
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