As far as experiments go, Manchester United’s decision to appoint David Moyes last summer was as close to an unmitigated disaster as it gets. In fact, by the time Moyes was unceremoniously relieved of his duties, things had gone beyond the point of no return and drastic action was required.
Away from heat maps and statistics recording pass completion rates, football remains an extremely simple game. One in which, crucially, quality always makes the difference, on and off the pitch, particularly over the course of a season. Just as it’s impossible to fathom Tom Cleverley performing better than Yaya Toure over 38 games or Ashley Young delivering more assists than Arjen Robben, it’s naive to expect a decent manager to perform like a world class one.
Unfortunately for him, Moyes falls into the former category and his beleaguered tenure offered further proof that only a manager of proven international calibre was the right man to replace Sir Alex Ferguson and good riddance to the romantic theory that considers Moyes’ Scottish origins more important than his tactical nous.
As it’s emerged over the season, it seems that United not only need a manager capable to preach attacking football to his troops and to understand what 21st century football requires, but they also need a man of steel, one capable to rule the dressing room by far when needs be, exactly as Fergie used to.
While many of the managers in the list of candidates to the United job would fulfil both requirements, nobody would perhaps do so as convincingly as Louis Van Gaal. The Holland manager would be the perfect man to take over United, given he possesses everything Moyes lacked and everything United desperately need if they’re to make the most of what is likely to be a season without European football and swiftly return to the upper echelon of English football.
The former Ajax, Barcelona and Bayern Munich manager has a clear philosophy of attacking football, one shaped by the time he spent working with Leo Beenhakker, one of Total Football’s great theorists, and one that he has implemented throughout his career, with his sides always encouraged to go forward and attack, rather than sit back and worry solely about stifling their opponents’ chances.
Even more importantly, however, Van Gaal has been determined to instil his philosophy into each of the club he’s managed, to ensure his successors could pick up his tactical baton and build upon such philosophy, which exactly what United require, given the lack of direction that has emerged post-Fergie.
A man whose track record with youngsters speaks for itself, Van Gaal can however be rather abrasive with both press and players and the players who have crossed his path in the past have been dispensed with without much fanfare (rings any familiar bells?) which, considering the laissez faire attitude that has crippled United’s dressing room this season, can only be a positive.
The Dutchman, after all, is a man who famously dropped his pants in the Bayern Munich’s dressing room to make sure his players knew his attributes were bigger than theirs. That alone, makes him a perfect fit for United.
I originally wrote the article for Football Scores as part of their monthly Super Blog feature and it was firstly published here. http://www.footballscores.com/superblog/van-gaal-the-perfect-choice-for-united/