Rio Ferdinand has not held back in his assessment of Manchester United, dropping a strong suggestion that Louis van Gaal is not the right man to take his former club forward.
The Red Devils had started the season off in decent form and even found themselves at the summit of the Premier League at one stage, but look around Old Trafford and you will see more fans booing their once formidable side rather than cheering.
Very few of them are impressed with what the Dutchman has done with the £250million he has spent over the last 18 months. This past week has seen United crash out of the Champions League and lose to Premier League newcomers Bournemouth. As a result, some are already calling for his head.
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Without actually saying it, Ferdinand appears to be one of them. He told The Sun that Old Trafford officials would not be doing what is best for the club if they reject the chance to hire Carlo Ancelotti or Pep Guardiola for the sake of keeping Van Gaal.
He said: "Pep Guardiola and Carlo Ancelotti will be available this summer and the question is will they be able to do a better job than Van Gaal. The board and owners might want to be loyal to Van Gaal after investing so much in him but they also have to do what is best for United.
“And if United finish outside the top four, that will be catastrophic. It might rule out the chance of getting either Guardiola or Ancelotti. It will be more difficult to attract the best players, too. The next six months are absolutely crucial.”
Ferdinand, who experienced tremendous success during a 12-year stay at Manchester United, believes the problem lies with the culture of fear that Van Gaal has installed around the club.
His relentless use of video analysis, and a reported penchant for naming and shaming players in team meetings for even the most trivial of errors, has left the club's most creative stars afraid of taking risks.
He continued: “Players are playing it safe because they are afraid of the consequences if they try to take chances. Manchester United are going backwards again and I don’t see that changing because the manager will not change.
“They have to be allowed to express themselves.”
The result has been a distinct lack of attacking flair. They have scored just 21 goals in 16 Premier League games and fans have been forced to sit through six 0-0 stalemates already this season.