Louis Van Gaal looks a beaten man. The Dutchman’s reign as Manchester United manager has almost certainly come to its end. With Jose Mourinho lurking in the background, it is almost a foregone conclusion that the ex-Chelsea boss will take over at Old Trafford.
Reports on Tuesday evening suggested that Louis Van Gaal had been sacked by Manchester United. Although no official announcement has been made by the club, the overwhelming feeling felt by the majority of the footballing world is that the 64-year-old Dutchman will lose his job in the extremely near future. A run of six games in all competitions without a win, including an early exit from the Champions League and back-to-back Premier League defeats against Bournemouth and Norwich, has ultimately left Van Gaal facing the prospect of an early retirement. The sacking of Jose Mourinho by Chelsea has only added to the pressure, and the many thousands of restless United fans who have watched their side play so poorly at times this season feel that this should be the end of the road for the Dutchman.
During his eighteen months in charge, Van Gaal has spent over £250 million on new players, and many have argued that the team United have now is actually weaker than the side inherited by David Moyes when the Scot took over from Sir Alex Ferguson. The players that have been allowed to leave Old Trafford under the Dutchman’s reign, including the likes of Robin Van Persie, Angel Di Maria and Javier Hernandez, have raised question marks over whether United are going in the right direction under the current regime. After the club’s premature exit from the Champions League, former defender Rio Ferdinand said:
“Manchester United are going backwards again and I don’t see that changing. Players are playing it safe because they are afraid of the consequences if they try to take chances.”
Speaking before the game against Norwich, it is clear that it is not just the United supporters that feel that their side is not living up to expectations. Defeat on Saturday saw Tottenham replace the Red Devils in the top four, and Van Gaal and his players now find themselves level with Crystal Palace on twenty-nine points, a further nine points adrift of shock leaders Leicester.
With what looks like being another barren season at Old Trafford in terms of silverware, many have called for an immediate change in management. The availability of one of the best coaches in world football has quickly cranked up the pressure on the United hierarchy to make an immediate decision on their current manager. With Pep Guardiola seemingly bound for Manchester City, will United really want to risk falling further behind their fearsome rivals? Mourinho may go against the club’s longstanding traditions. He may be controversial and at times send the club into disrepute. And he may not appear to fit in with the attacking philosophy United has prided itself on over the years. However, what Mourinho will deliver is trophies. Manchester United have to win the biggest trophies in the game, it’s as simple as that. With Mourinho, they will have the perfect manager to ensure that happens.
The temptation to replace Van Gaal with the Portuguese is growing stronger and stronger, and it feels as if it is only a matter of time before an official announcement on the Dutchman’s future is made. If it hasn’t already happened, a defeat or failure to beat Stoke on Boxing Day will undoubtedly mark the end of Louis Van Gaal’s eighteen month tenure in charge of the world’s biggest football club. With Jose Mourinho waiting impatiently, it seems only fitting that the Portuguese’s first match in charge of United will be against Chelsea at Old Trafford.