Louis van Gaal testing fans' patience but sacking would be premature

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It has been a sight familiar to Manchester United fans over the last couple of years. Their team pressing for that all important goal; the one that could ensure their qualification for the next round of the Champions League. But things never quite work out the way you want them to in football.

David Moyes suffered heartbreak in Germany during his brief tenure at Old Trafford, in a 3-1 defeat to Bayern Munich. There were shades of that experience for his successor, Louis van Gaal, as United once again conceded three goals to consign themselves to a defeat and crashed out of the Champions League.

It is the third time in five years that the Champions League will continue without United after the Christmas holidays. Even with Sir Alex Ferguson as manager, the side still underachieved against Europe's elite during the final years of his reign. Could this be the largest indication yet of a club in decline?


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The Red Devils are adamant Van Gaal was hired to provide stability at the club, that the next manager could then progress from. The first season under the Dutchman did indeed look promising, with United achieving a respectable fourth place finish and obtaining Champions League football. Everything was beginning to look positive.

This season has been a slightly different story. The simple facts cannot be ignored by the United hierarchy. The club have won only four of their last 12 games since the start of October, and despite being within three points of the top spot in the Premier League, still aren't providing the attractive brand of football that is normally synonymous with Manchester United.

Van Gaal is considered to be a very conservative manager, who prides possession over a sheer number of chances. It appears to be his firm belief that as long as the team converts one of their major chances, it is a job well done.

But it isn't a belief that United devotees share. The 0-0 draw against West Ham demonstrates that the fans' discontent with their team is well supported. It is clear to see they are not happy with their club's fall from grace and want something to change sooner rather than later. But their club do not sack their managers unless it is absolutely necessary.

Therefore removing Van Gaal just isn't a viable option. He has cut the deadwood from the squad, and brought in younger, fresher faces, with the likes of Anthony Martial and Morgan Schneiderlin particularly impressing so far this season. But there just isn't enough depth to allow the team to battle across multiple competitions.

You don't have to look any further than the defence in the closing minutes in Germany that consisted of Guillermo Varela, an injured Chris Smalling, Daley Blind and Cameron Borthwick-Jackson to see that.

So the question remains. What does Van Gaal do next?

It appears as though he is half way through his tenure at Old Trafford, with the end of the 2016-17 season believed to be his retirement date.

With his team battling it out for the Premier League title, but suffering poor defeats in the League Cup and now the Champions League, the Dutchman's unit seem to take one step forward but then two strides back.

As Sir Alex Ferguson continues to look on from the stands, and more fans beginning to voice their concerns, Van Gaal has a lot to work on with his team.

Some say the side has made suitable progress, but as the final whistle rang in Wolfsburg, others pointed out that their manager looked a beaten man.

Louis van Gaal
UEFA Champions League
Manchester United
Wayne Rooney

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