As Manchester United suffered yet another loss in the league this season, it begged the question once more, as to what will happen to Louis van Gaal? It was the first time that the Red Devils had lost to West Brom at the Hawthorns in Premier League history and once more solidifies the fact that United have lost their ‘fear factor’.
Despite spending more than £250 million on players over the past two years the squad still looks unbalanced and lacks any direction. Van Gaal has been accused of being a ‘player collector’ as his transfers seem to lack any strategy.
The defeat against West Brom leaves United in fifth place, two points behind West Ham and three behind Manchester City (although the Citizens have played a game less). Van Gaal now has a lower win percentage than predecessor David Moyes, despite the heavy outlay on transfers. Chances of a top four finish seem unlikely and therefore Champions League qualification through their league position seems out of the question. That leaves the Europa League as their main priority, however, even if United did win the tournament would it keep van Gaal in a job? And would the fans really be happy?
United come up against Liverpool in the last-16 tie in the Europa League. It is possibly the biggest fixture between the two clubs for the past three years. Both clubs pride themselves on European success with United having three European cups to Liverpool’s five. With both teams having little to play for in the league this will be a massive game and defining point in both their seasons.
The Old Trafford faithful are not only disappointed with results, but also with performances and the style of football they are seeing. The Dutchman is set on playing possession football and has been accused of not allowing players to express themselves. It has been hard to ignore the chants of ‘attack attack attack’ at the theatre of dreams.
Van Gaal has also managed to develop a tense relationship with the press. Fergie in his days was a fearsome character, but van Gaal often doesn’t make any sense, he recently said he had asked his players to be ‘horny’ before a game in the Europa League. Perhaps a lack of English doesn’t help.
It seems as though the nail is in the coffin for the former Netherlands boss as he looks likely to get replaced in the summer. But who is the favourite to replace him?
Jose Mourinho and Ryan Giggs are the early frontrunners for the job. But are they both viable candidates? Mourinho would certainly bring the stardom and charisma that the job requires, but his playing style has been criticised for being too defensive in the past. It seems as though the days of Alex Ferguson’s wingers going gung-ho at defending teams are long gone.
With Mourinho the club will get success. He has 18 major trophies to his name and silverware is ultimately what the fans want. The Portuguese manager has won wherever he has gone and would give United an element of fear back. As Manchester City announce the arrival of Pep Guardiola, it would be fitting to see Jose take the helm, he is still the only man to deny Guardiola a league title.
Giggs, a member of the ‘Class of 92’, is the other front runner for the job. The Welshman holds the appearance record for United, turning out 936 times for the Red Devils and is currently the number two at Old Trafford. He is what a lot of the fans would want, but lacks any real managerial experience.
Touted as a potential candidate for the role in the future, there is only so much you can learn as an assistant manager before needing to move on. This might be the thinking of the Manchester United board. It would certainly be a gamble if the Manchester club were to throw Giggs at the helm of possibly the biggest club in the world.