By Ollie Cranham-Young
- Re-shaped the squad by signing the players he wants
- Got rid of the deadwood
Following yesterday’s crushing defeat to Arsenal, some people may be beginning to doubt Van Gaal. Now whether you are in favour of Van Gaal or not. W take a look at why the Dutch philosopher is doing all the right things at United.
Van Gaal has made some fantastic signings during his time at United, and it is obvious that he is building the foundations and thinking about the future. The vast majority of his signings have been young, skilful players with bags of potential.
For example: Herrera, Martial, Schneiderlin, Blind etc. Okay so he made 2 bad ones, but what manager hasn’t. Bebe, Anderson, Obertan – Sir Alex had more than his fair share. Not forgetting Luke Shaw, who had been the outstanding performer of the season up until his disappointing injury in Eindhoven which has put him out of the action until realistically next season. Before the injury he was showing himself to be one of the best left-backs in the world, and he’s English.
We won’t delve into too much detail about every signing but the fact he has attracted probably Germany’s greatest ever midfielder proves his quality. He has also got us covered in every position, when Sir Alex retired we had gaps everywhere, now, maybe just a centre back and a striker but other than that, the squad is covered.
The final point on his signings is that this summer alone he has signed: Italy’s best full-back, France’s best holding midfielder, Germany Captain, the best prospect out of both the Netherlands and France and has made David De Gea put pen to paper on a new contract. And with a net spend averaging around the £30 million mark.
As with arrivals, there has to be some departures. He has got rid of the players that he doesn’t feel are up to the United standard. Let’s take Welbeck and Falcao for example. Are they performing well at their current clubs? The Premier League has proven too much for Di Maria and Pedro, isn’t looking too good at Chelsea is he either.
Other players such as Van Persie have departed giving way for other players to break their way into the first team. It’s much better man-management from Van Gaal, as he is no longer sat with a bunch of decent players who need game time, instead a bunch of youngsters, full of potential – Martial, Wilson etc.
Van Gaal could have easily left players like Van Persie to rot on the bench, but the fact he is willing to ship him out to the best European club possible shows his character not only as a manager but as a decent human being. And that isn’t mentioning Chicharito or loanee Januzaj who he feels would benefit from game time elsewhere.
Van Gaal took us from struggling 7th to 4th in about 4 months, an incredible achievement for a manager that’s never managed in the Premier League. The hardest league in the world may we add. As you know, we went above City after Van Gaal’s side demolished them in the Derby, and had we not lost Carrick that day, we would have had a good chance at a title tilt, which shows how much Van Gaal has turned things around.
Okay, so we may have dropped down to joint 2nd after being defeated by a strong Arsenal side, but if you’d have said to me at the beginning of the campaign, after 8 games, you’ll be 2 points off 1st after losing arguably one of your best players I’d have bitten your hand off.
Victories over Liverpool, Tottenham and Southampton Away has shown the potential in the side. Furthermore, excluding Sunday we had scored 3 goals in the last 4 games, so the goals aren’t a problem. We overcame our Champions League Qualifier with Club Brugge and are now on 3 points in the group along with everybody else, so you could arguably say we are joint first.
Finally, Van Gaal has learnt his lesson and that has meant we have not crashed out to a lower league team in the Capital One Cup this time around, yet he is still prepared to give youth a chance in the form of Andreas Pereira, who scored in our 3-0 victory over Ipswich Town.
As we know from his press conferences, Van Gaal is never eager to single out players efforts and talk about people individually, yet the improvement he has made to some players in the squad has been incredible. Nobody, whether that’s Schweinsteiger, Mata, De Gea or the late Di Maria are guaranteed a place in the starting 11.
Players such as Young, Smalling, Valencia, Januzaj, Jones etc. who were all at the club prior to Van Gaal’s appointment have all come on leaps and bounds since his arrival. The stand out performers are Young, Smalling and Jones. Smalling is without a doubt the best centre-back in the country now, thanks to Van Gaal and his coaches.
Imagine saying at the beginning of last season that league record signing Di Maria would not get a space in the starting 11 due to Ashley Young. It’s unbelievable, but shows no matter how good your reputation is, Van Gaal will drop you, which highlights his courage and how determined he is as a manager.
Finally, looking ahead to the future: We’re joint second in the league, progressed through our Capital One Cup tie, overcame our Champions League Qualifier and now are joint 1st in the group and we haven’t even fully clicked as a team yet.
Van Gaal still has well over a year left on his contract. Whether he stays beyond the end of that contract. United will be in a much better state than when he arrived.