So, it turns out, Louis Van Gaal will be in charge for Manchester United’s FA Cup 4th round encounter at Derby after all.
Win, and nothing will have changed. Manchester United are expected to beat Derby. As they were expected to beat Norwich, Bournemouth, and Southampton.
Lose, and, assumably, that should be it for Louis Van Gaal. Surely, it has to be. But, by this point, who the heck knows. The Southampton defeat was assumed by many to be the final straw for the club. On Sunday the tabloids circled around him, with almost every back page insisting that he’d be gone by Monday, Tuesday at a push.
Van Gaal was even seen leaving Manchester on a plane to add credence to the rumour. Then, on Monday, The Guardian reported that Van Gaal not only offered his resignation after the Southampton defeat but that executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward told him to take a few days to mull it over.
They then added that Van Gaal would be back in Manchester on Tuesday, where he’d sit down with Woodward once again, and, United fan’s believed, the pair would reach the inevitable conclusion that he should leave.
But when Tuesday arrived there was nothing. The BBC then refuted The Guardian’s claim, and as the morning rolled into the afternoon which turned into the evening it became apparent that Louis Van Gaal would still be Manchester United manager for the game at the iPro Stadium.
It’s hard not think about the reasons why Ed Woodward is going to such great lengths to keep Louis Van Gaal, who has reportedly tried to resign on at least three occasions, on as United manager. Obviously, the biggest reason is that a second sacking in less than three seasons would reflect poorly on his ability to select the right man for the Old Trafford hot seat.
And while it’s admirable that Woodward has given Van Gaal time to correct this slide, the fact that progress has completely stagnated and that Van Gaal himself has freely admitted (via Manchester Evening News) he’s unable to match the expectations of the furious fans, means that he’s now the only one who fully believes the Dutch manager is the right person to take United forward.
The latest speculation (via The Guardian) is that Louis Van Gaal’s future will be decided on a game-by-game basis. If that’s true then, quite frankly, what’s the point? Is this ultimatum supposed to light a fire up the backsides of both Van Gaal and United and inspire them to the results and style that fans crave?
That’s simply not going to work. Even victories against Derby and Stoke won’t placate fans that have long grown tired of just dire the performances have been. There would have to be a full-blown change in approach and ferocity, accompanied by victories, to alter Van Gaal’s fortunes.
Imagine being a Manchester United player training ahead of Friday’s game. The uncertainty surrounding Louis Van Gaal’s future can only be having an adverse effect on their preparations. Plus, it’s also completely cruel on Van Gaal too. Probably not as cruel as actually sacking him, but toying with his position in the same way that you’d tease a cat with a piece of string still seems unfathomably unfair.
But, drastic times call for drastic measures. And, because of what’s come before, this is now the position that Louis Van Gaal finds himself in. Van Gaal admitted (via BBC) that he “cannot lose” to the Championship side on Friday. But while winning will just slightly prolong the inevitable, at least another defeat would bring his now risible tenure to the conclusion many believe should have been reached weeks ago.