After over twenty years of unprecedented success under Sir Alex Ferguson, Manchester United were always going to take time to rebuild the squad to create a team capable of continuing this success after his departure.
To have expected Louis van Gaal to create a title-winning team in either of his first two seasons at the club was hugely unrealistic. It is important to remember that Sir Alex was appointed United manager in 1986 but did not win the league until 1993 and finished outside of the top ten in three of his first four seasons as manager, winning only two trophies.
It is easy to forget the difficulty and length of time taken in forming the squad which would go on to dominate the Premier League era.
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Van Gaal took a team, which had finished seventh the previous season, back into the Champions League at the first time of asking. This significant achievement should not be overlooked, particularly as so-called "star players" in the team Van Gaal inherited are so bad that they get outshone by schoolboys.
Van Gaal offset this by taking a huge gamble in 2015, signing 19-year-old Anthony Martial for a fee which could rise to £61.6 million, which has paid off with the striker scoring 13 goals already in his first season at the club.
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While the season has been far from exceptional, United are still in contention for Champions League football and talented academy players such as Marcus Rashford and Timothy Fosu-Mensah have been brought into the first team by Van Gaal.
All this in spite of incessant speculation that he was about to be sacked and revelations of a £5million compensation payment due to Jose Mourinho should he not be appointed United manager by the end of May. Other managers may have resigned under similar circumstances, yet Van Gaal has shown the utmost professionalism and continued to win games, for which he deserves respect.
Replacing Van Gaal with a manager who stays for two or three seasons, insults his own players in press conferences and causes a scandal which overshadows performances every time he is unhappy is not going to return United to their previous dominance.
This dominance did not involve winning the odd title here or there, but consistently winning the title, domestic cups and reaching the latter stages of the Champions League season in, season out. To achieve such dominance it is important to allow a manager to stay for far longer and build a squad better than any other in the league.
During this process, fans will have to accept the club finishing in fourth or maybe fifth place, while the correct balance is found in the squad.
It is to Van Gaal's credit that United have remained a contender for Champions League football during his period as manager and decline to mid-table, which the club faced on his arrival, has been prevented.
Has Louis van Gaal been a success at Manchester United? Have YOUR say in the comment section below!
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