Louis Van Gaal; a leader of men or just an ego?


If you want to write articles for this site or already have a football article to send to us, please paste your article or your name and email address into our contact Form

(single word yields best result)

Louis Van Gaal, a leader of men or just an ego?
Image from: wsc.co.uk

Tales from the Dutchman's impact to date.

Louis Van Gaal (LVG) removed the nervous air that had descended around OT on his arrival, residue from the David Moyes admiral but ultimately failed and brief era. It's always easier being the man after the man.

Poor planning around transfer targets last summer though were the result of LVG World Cup commitments. The responsibility of this lies perhaps more with the club than LVG and maybe it was yet more teething issues with the now improving efforts of Ed Woodward.

The lack of cohesion on new and departing players in turn led to a late revision of the squad going into last season. LVG was underwhelmed with the lack of genuine team development time weigh against commercial pressures from the club. LVG showed in this very early point in his tenure that he alone would be accountable for pre season schedules and this years travel plans have been drastically reduced. Pre-season form though did give cause for some premature optimism with all fixtures won.


A desire to sell shirts from the clubs perspective and a gamble to add Falco's historical and impressive goals output sadly failed. This has perhaps led to the delay in the development of James Wilson and perhaps to some extent the under utilisation of the second season syndrome suffering Adnan Januzat. Adnan being David Moyes prime achievement in the previous season.


A brave and ultimately accurate call on a local lad Danny Welbeck came next. This proved to be insightful if a little presumptive by LVG. LVG decision to release a 'Little Pea' to Madrid was not a holiday related accident, but an early conviction call based on Chichorito's skill sets not matching with the team direction. This was not based on a great deal of working experience with 'Little pea' - again not a prostate problem - but evidence that LVG knows which players will fit with his Philosophy. There is a ruthless almost German like efficiency with LVG, the some of the parts make up the whole and ADM would fall foul of this particular mind-set.

Philosophy - a term which soon became punctuation in LVG every utterance. Early on pundits were confused by what Philosophy LVG was trying to implement and viewed his tactics as negative. A clearer way of expressing what his grand design is, may be summed up as - 'fast tempo football based on ball retention with interchangeable players within a set system' - you can see why he prefers Philosophy for short though!

However, to have explained his Philosophy fully in an honest and open manner he would have had to acknowledge that some of the players he had inherited were struggling to implement his methods and sadly for some they would never be technically and tactically up to the job. Shrewd protection of fragile ego's within a dressing room where much is expected and also just the hint of improve or your out motivation prevailed under the banner of Philosophy.


Moving on, the signing of Rojo was based on the good performances observed by LVG at the world cup. The potential of Rojo is clear but the finished article was what LVG should have signed not potential. He was soon to experience this lack of foresight early on with the developmental needs of Smalling, Jones and the most likely soon to be departing Evans.

LVG impact on the development of Smalling has been exceptional this year and is clear evidence of his man management skills. Whilst Jones's whole hearted efforts may yet prove insufficient for the ball playing and technical excellence LVG is demanding, even from his defensive unit. As for Evans, sadly this competent defender will never show the technical skills demand by LVG.

LVG's early treatment of Shaw was curious, an expensive teenage arrival was dismissed as being unfit and an individual fitness plan implemented for him. Perhaps the strain of this work for Shaw resulted in several injury niggles in a hampered start to his career; it's hard to know for certain. What we do know for certain is in a straight choice between using the carrot or the stick and private and public displays of admonishment, LVG will be bold and go with his instinct, LVG will make decisions.

His touch of man management with his defensive group of players, including emerging players McNair and Blackett did offer hope as injuries starved United of consistency in selections in the early part of the season. On the down side, LVGs preponderance to over coach and test the tactical awareness of players during this injury ravaged period was a little frustrating. That said he did ensure United's injury affected opening did not completely derail the season and it further evidenced LVG is a conviction based manager where the system and not the personnel will prevail.

Throughout the season LVG maintained consistency in the 'deliver what I want' method and not what you are used to. Injury and confidence affected Rafeal and will ultimately lead to his exit with LVG clearly not rating him. Valencia's development into a short term fix at right back or wing back was further evidence of 'implement what I want and you stay in the team', if not the LVG Philosophy will not accommodate you. It is easy to see where LVG has had clashes with the players under his management. He would argue the end justifies the means and the results speak for themselves - see his CV for Ajax, Barca and Bayern.

LVG most striking 'achievement' was to see the world renowned talents of ADM being rejected for the previously and always underperforming skill set of Ashley Young. Young had a good pre season and showed he could follow the managers instructions even playing out of his familiar position. Whilst the more accomplished ADM failed to do the dirty work such as tracking back, which Young had shone at. A tipping point between these two players selection came when ADM's early season and good form ceased to outweigh his tactical deficiencies in the ever critical eyes of LVG. This curiously, yet appropriately, led to the talents of Young being preferred to those of the more accomplished ADM for most of the remaining season. A not so subtle or covert message from LVG - price tag and reputation are not important here - please now see handling of Shaw and ADM.

LVG demonstrated he was capable of acknowledging he made mistakes though. Switching back to 442 on occasions. Herrera too benefited from a reprieve along side Mata, both of whom seemed un-fancied for long early periods in the season. LVG would probably rightly argue that until the defensive deficiencies were rectified then Herrera and Mata would not have the platform to display their talents and the team were to vulnerable defensively. The pair though did gel in the later part of the season and always when Mr Dependable Carrick created a platform and injected intelligent passing in front of the back four/five.

Mata and Herrera's re-emergence also coincided with the unapologetic use of Fellaini's strength's. David Moyes take note, if you have someone who is effective in a direct approach then best to play to his strengths, don't be ashamed if this is not the beautiful game - if it is a winning game in a results based business.

The crunch part of the season was defined with some excellent and notable results. City, Liverpool and Spurs beaten with the with a familiar routine previously associated with 'typical United'. Champions League qualification came at the expense of both Spurs and Liverpool in these defining fixtures. LVG was delivering with his system with whichever players proved they could and would adapt. Others players would learn or pay the price. Even World Cup captains would fall fowl of the LVG Philosophy of excel within the system or be removed from it. RVP has paid the price due to his lethargy in training and underperformance's.

LVG a conviction manager then, with a CV to support the Ego. Like with any CV though it's chronological and past performance is not always an indicator of future success. Make no mistake this is now LVG United, the new season will be with his players, ones he's inherited and now approved of, or the replacements that have already signed and those to still follow later this summer. LVG has had the opportunity and set a proper transfer strategy this year and Ed Woodward is proving more than able at implementing the plan this time around and even the Glazers are overdue some positive tones for approving the last 2/3 rounds of spending.

The Ego, the Philosophy, the leader of men. It's time for LVG to deliver.

written by Solskjaerhaswonit!

Follow us on Twitter Our Rss Feed


To comment on this article, please log in

Forgot your password?

Forgot your username?