By Sam Noel | The Duquesne Duke
Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal could be done in the Premier League.
Where has it all gone wrong for Van Gaal? After being touted for delivering success back to the Red Devils following the departure of legendary leader, Sir Alex Ferguson in 2013, and struggling season under David Moyes in 2014, the Dutch manager has so far failed to uphold the extremely high standards of the club.
In 23 matches, Van Gaal’s squad sits in fifth place, mustering 37 points, 10 behind leaders Leicester City and five from the top four.
While last season was certainly a rebuilding process, Van Gaal managed to lead United to a respectable fourth-place finish, cementing their return to the UEFA Champions League. But this year, fans and upper level management expected much more.
The biggest problems involve the team’s attack. According to Espnfc.com, Manchester United has failed to score in the first half in their past 11 home matches in all competitions. And in those 11 matches, it posed a mediocre 4-3-4 record, scoring only seven goals in that span.
Old Trafford, United’s legendary home ground, was once a fortress that instilled fear into its visitors. In just two years, what used to be the “house that Sir Alex built” has now become desecrated.
Home-field advantage is vital in any sport, but it’s especially important in the Premier League. Due to the league’s hypercompetitive atmosphere, each away game is guaranteed to be difficult, which makes winning home games all the more important.
And while Van Gaal brought in a number of internationally renowned players for depth and quality like Morgan Schneiderlein and Bastian Schweinsteiger, he failed to address more important and immediate needs.
The problems began for Van Gaal this season when he failed to sign a top-class striker to compliment star Wayne Rooney, a player whose reputation has risen higher than his playing ability. The additions of wingers Anthony Martial and Memphis Depay were supposed to add depth, vision and pace to the side, but it’s hard to succeed when your playmakers have no goal-scoring threat to benefit from their service.
With the departure of strikers Robin van Persie and Radamel Falcao in the summer, Van Gaal is now forced to place all of his faith in Rooney. He had the opportunity to sign the young prolific English goalscorer Harry Kane in the summer, but a deal was never agreed upon. United exited the transfer window with only one experienced striker.
A potential failure to qualify for the UEFA Champions League will no doubt damage United’s finances and its ability to attract top-class players even further. The revenue received from qualification is the reason why clubs place such a high value on placing in the top four. If United failed to qualify for the second time in three years, it could have major implications on their financial future.
In all, Van Gaal’s focus on defense hasn’t done enough for his team. His failure to bring in a prolific striker has caused United to stagnate this season, and its financial stability hangs in the balance if it fails to qualify for the Champions League.