Sunday, 20 December 2015

TERRACE TALK: Man United - ‘Anyone But Louis van Gaal’ As Old Trafford Revolts

If you are a Manchester United fan then there is no need to be scared. Nothing will be mentioned about Saturday’s horror match here, save to note that no Moyes team was ever booed off as vociferously as Van Gaal’s shower was at full time.

No, today is a time to watch a scaffold being built. We’re all tricoteuses now, and we will not be putting aside our knitting until we see some heads roll.

Evidence? Try two polls on the Red Issue website. The Manichean one asked whether fans would rather see LVG sacked today and José appointed, or the incumbent allowed to see out his contract.

Some 88% voted for the immediate axe. The second posited some wider scenarios. 50% of those who expressed a preference said ‘appoint José today’; 34% said ‘get Fergie in as a six-month caretaker’; 15% chose ‘let Giggs do that instead’. Only 1% voted to keep Van Gaal. So much for the fans’ view then: No appeal necessary.

What of the players, though?

If the phrase du jour of the Premier League season is “losing the dressing room”, then let me assert here that Van Gaal appears to have lost his too. I have in front of me a list of eight senior Old Trafford personalities, all of whom my long-time United sources tell me have had enough of him.

One is said by his friends to have been considering for weeks handing in his notice after the St Stephen’s Day match. Another is reported by a close confidant to have asked his agent to explore new club options should LVG survive the season. Another is claimed to be trying to organise secret team meetings to discuss gameplan alternatives behind LVG’s back. A mild-mannered senior pro who gets on with everyone simply describes LVG as “the weirdest man I have ever met” and confirms that, in his view, “all the players want him out”.

Three of them have allegedly confronted LVG about his tactics and selection after recent games.

These, then, are among the very club employees Van Gaal claimed on Friday had “full confidence” in him.

Even Van Gaal had to admit that senior pros had been to see him as long ago as the summer to complain about his methods. It would appear he has decided not to pay a blind bit of notice, with the inevitable consequences that players have not only lost faith in him, but also confidence in themselves.

Now we arrive at a sentence I never thought we’d read: “He could be worse than Moyes.”

Isn’t that at least threatening to be the case? He has had twice as long in post, and several times as much money to spend, and yet here we are — out of the Champions League, in which even Moyes took us to the quarters, and in imminent danger of falling to 7th in the league by the new year, should we lose to Chelsea and Stoke. That’s where we were when Moyes was canned.

Eighteen months of “genius” to end up back at the beginning? What philosophy is that, then? Some kind of Buddhist rebirthing? Ah yes, the word “genius“, uttered during a now notorious press briefing 17 days ago to describe LVG. Step forward Ed Woodward, in whose trembling hands the axe now resides, and who faces the doomsday scenario of being responsible to the Glazers for two failed bosses in a row.

Ironically, and quite unjustly, he could escape all but scot-free from the farrago he has helped create — by sacking LVG today, and perhaps appointing José in time to face his old team next week.

What an exquisite irony it would be, should a refusal to accept that his “genius” is no such thing end up costing him his job next summer. But today, justly or not, he has a chance for at least partial redemption. And he should take it. José, Fergie, Giggs, or whoever — anyone would be better than this martinet of misery.

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