Louis Van Gaal´s latest statement via The Independant is certain to add to the mounting frustration amongst Manchester United fans. At a time when his regime is coming under serious pressure from disgruntled fans, his assertion that United will not win the Premier League title this season, is either incredibly brave, or bordering on stupidity.
Van Gaal's pessimistic prediction shows a fundamental lack of understanding of English thinking. The SAS motto `He who dares, wins´ epitomises the thinking of the average fan on the terrace. Every fan wants to believe that their team can achieve success. Glorious failure will be accepted, even praised. But, throwing in the towel will never be tolerated.
In 2001/02 and 2013/14 Leeds United and Tottenham Hotspur respectively topped the league table by January and were considered as genuine challengers. Their Managers David O´Leary and Harry Redknapp consistently played down their title chances.
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Predictably both sides slumped in form and their challenges came to nought. Both managers were axed at the end of the season. Compare that to Brendan Rodgers who constantly talked-up Liverpool´s ultimately unsuccessful 2013/14 tilt at the title. Fans were willing to overlook last season's disappointment largely because of the previous season's valiant effort.
Ironically, Spurs and Leeds fans still speak about their clubs Champion´s League runs which ended at the quarter-final and semi-final stage, respectively, in reverential terms.
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Van Gaal´s prediction will probably prove to be correct. United do not look capable of winning the league this season. The Dutchman´s belief that his team should be targeting success in the cup competitions is perhaps, the sensible option.
Yet, to say so publicly and after just four games is a risky strategy. Especially at a club whose stadium is dubbed `The Theatre of Dreams´. Fans will not appreciate their title aspirations been scythed down in their infancy.
Van Gaal certainly choose a strange moment in which to attempt to manage expectations. His words come on the same day when reports have emerged that a number of his squad approached him with concern over his `stifling´ tactics.
Fan discontent with the current regime is the highest it has been since the Dutchman´s arrival. Pundits and fans alike have been vocal in their criticism of the direction the club is taking. After 50 games at the helm the popular preconception is that the team has not improved significantly on the David Moyes-era according to The Mirror.
Surely this was the time to issue the rallying cry. Last season, van Gaal could be heard talking up a title challenge right until, the 1-0 defeat to Chelsea made it mathematically impossible. And fans loved him for it. It afforded them the chance to dream.
If van Gaal is to see out his three-year contract with United, he must deliver silverware. This season, by implying that his side will focus on cup success, Red Devil´s fans will expect to see a gleaming new trophy in the cabinet by the end of the season.
Even that might not be enough.
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