Louis Van Gaal was unceremoniously sacked, days after winning the FA Cup with Manchester United in his second season in-charge. The champagne was still dripping off his hair at the post match press conference, and it was unfortunate that he had to deal with a barrage of questions regarding his future at the club.
The rumours had already begun to swirl that the FA Cup win was not enough to save his job. The club missed out on Champions League qualification and that was deemed to be unacceptable by the top brass. Coupled with his rigid tactical plans that curtailed player freedom, the insipid football that ensued and his bursts of anger at journalists and supporters, LVG had burnt most of his bridges. His successor was a close friend and former protégé Jose Mourinho, and that would have felt like a stab in the heart.
A lot of people have been questioning whether it was the right decision to sack him, whether he should have been given another season to improve the squad, or simply if he should get some more credit. Let us see what Van Gaal brought to Manchester.
Louis Van Gaal has been an extremely manager throughout his career, managing teams like Ajax, Barcelona, Bayern Munich and even the Dutch National team. He was one of the most decorated managers in world football winning league titles with Ajax, Barcelona and Munich, and winning the UEFA Cup and Champions League with Ajax.
Before coming to United, he was manager of the Dutch national team that reached the semi-final of the world cup in Brazil. His appointment had been greeted with quiet an optimism after the fiasco of David Moyes.
Van Gaal’s start to his United career was a difficult one, losing his first home game to Swansea at Old Trafford. The first season was spent largely on integrating the players into his system, and the word transition was bandied around a lot at his post match press conferences. By the end of the second transfer window, Van Gaal had spent in excess of £250 million and United fans were scratching their heads about why their team is still playing badly.
The sad truth is Van Gaal had lost the dressing room with his draconian methods and was never really going to transform this squad into anything that the Man United supporters would appreciate. The most talented player they did bring in, Angel di Maria would only end up playing at Old Trafford for a solitary season before deciding he didn’t want to play under the United manager anymore. Di Maria was frustrated with the fact that the manager would continuously play him out of position, and severely curtail his freedom to move around the pitch. This is a player who had just been given the Man of the Match award in the Champions League final, months before arriving in Manchester. If we look at the United squad today, there is no player who can match up to the ability of Angel Di Maria. And not only did LVG let him go, he was the reason Di Maria left.