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Louis van Gaal and the philosophy that never worked

Former Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal stated on Monday that United might have been his last club in his managerial career, but it will come in surprise if he decided to start a new adventure, considering that he said the same thing before taking charge of United.

The Dutch stated that his time at Red Devils was hard because of the way the media treated him and that’s why he considers the FA Cup as one fantastic trophy:

“I spent the last six months of my time there on the scaffold, with my head in a noose. The English media were responsible for that.

“The pressure was inhumane at times and I had to stay true to my philosophy and keep motivating the players. When you still manage to win the FA Cup under such pressure, you are proud of it.

“Also because we lost a player to a red card in the final and were playing with 10 men in extra time. That makes the FA Cup a fantastic trophy for me. We faced so much resistance.”

As he announced his possible retirement, let’s have a look at his tenure at United and how he managed several situations from a supporter’s point of view.

When the news broke that the Dutch was appointed United manager I have to admit that I had my doubts, as despite having a decent World Cup run with the Netherlands, his controversial ways of doing things were worrying, but the fact that he was a winning manager, changed everything as it seemed that the bad times with David Moyes were in the past now.

However, I was one of those supporters that would always question his decisions regarding the team or the way he would treat the players. There were certain things that he didn’t do right but he did bring a lot of joy among United fans.

Bringing first all of the good things he has done at United, a big thank you goes to him for the FA Cup, a trophy that may not be as important as the league title, still is something considering that our trophy cabinet didn’t have an addition since Sir Alex Ferguson was United manager. The emotions at Wembley were huge as United lifted the trophy for the twelfth time, a record we share with Arsenal, all these thanks to Louis van Gaal.

Another huge appreciation, besides that I still refuse to accept it, it’s the way United youngsters managed to find minutes in the first team. The club was in difficult times due to injuries and his decisions to integrate youngsters from the Reserves into the first team made it possible for them to find room in the first team or find a club to play permanently, something that United has always provided as being one of the best academies in the country.

Surely, it is satisfying that during his tenure, that the Scousers didn’t stand a chance against United. This might be nothing compared to Sir Alex’s achievements against Liverpool but surely this has kept them quiet for a long time. Besides the elimination from the Europa League against Liverpool, the team has not just pulled great performances but also enjoyable victories.

However, the stats weren’t in his favour, as the play became boring and those 0-0 draws irritated the fans, under Van Gaal, United created a strong system defensively that didn’t have many errors, making us a solid team in the back in spite of the fact that his beloved 3-5-2 system simply didn’t work. Discipline was his main focus and this “perfectly” built system had several issues on doing big things.
Turning now on the negatives of his tenure, I am sure that many will agree on the points I will state.

The way he would treat the players was something that I will never understand. It’s obvious that he had favourites and these privileged players did cost a lot to the team. One name that comes to mind it’s Bastian Schweinsteiger, whom he had worked before at Bayern Munich. An injured Schweinsteiger was first in the pecking order to play ahead of Ander Herrera. Flying home after games or going on tennis tours with his girlfriend (now spouse) created issues, that somehow he left it all to be solved by Jose Mourinho that separated the German from the other part of the team. He didn’t even know how to treat the big issue with Rooney. As we all know he is past his best, and the fact that his captain would always start, gathered a lot of hate around the player making the transition for the England captain really hard.

Another issue regarding this is the double standards he used. Ander Herrera who now is a regular starter in Jose’s Starting XI clearly was left often clueless of what he had to do as the bench would expect him even though he would be one of the best players in the pitch, but according to the manager, he wasn’t getting his philosophy right. The same issue was with Andreas Pereira, as the youngster never had the chance the others had to prove himself.

Another problem was the way he would treat the fans. Our fan base is indeed a bit controversial but when it comes to the team they always would stand by the manager. The expectations were high on the team and the way he would say that we were asking a lot and that’s definitely something we weren’t looking forward creating a toxic atmosphere around the team. He can blame the media for this and he might be right, but he should have known well that this wasn’t Spain or Germany, as every action matters.

The team spent millions on players that today aren’t being beneficial like Darmian, or even worse coming at the club for money like Angel Di Maria who left in the very next season. The David De Gea situation was definitely another big problem that we will never understand how those blessed papers weren’t sent on time. He surely was being a cynic and it did work.

Funny moments were also part of this adventure he had with United and unforgettable are the moments where he used printed statistics, reacted spontaneously by falling into the ground imitating the foul to the referee, a moment that gave us a good laugh because we won that day.

Maybe his process based on philosophy didn’t work as he was appointed in a late stage of his managerial career as United manager, but he remains a great manager for what all he has done. United is a big stage for anyone and he simply wasn’t here in the right time.

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