Since Louis Van Gaal was officially announced as the successor to David Moyes at Manchester United, most of the clubs fans have been swept up by a whirlwind of emotion. And they have every reason to be excited. Louis Van Gaal is one of the greats in soccer management.
Van Gaal has had success domestically in Spain, Germany and Netherlands over the course of his managerial career. The Dutch leader has also reached the pinnacle of European soccer when his Ajax side defeated AC Milan in the 1995 Champions League final in Vienna. And of course, he has just finished directing the Netherlands to a third place finish in this summer’s World Cup.
Van Gaal is lauded for his footballing philosophy, tactics and man-management.
All of these characteristics will be needed for the 62-year-old manager to guide Manchester United from a seventh place finish last season to a position on the league table that best befits the biggest club in the world.
Some United fans believe that Van Gaal will lead the club back to the Premier League title in his first season. Others are confident that the Dutchman’s presence on United’s bench guarantees that the Red Devils will finish in the league’s top four.
But Louis Van Gaal has only just met his players for the first time this week. He conveyed in his press conference on Thursday that it would take time for him to get his philosophy across to the players and to evaluate them.
“My method is always the same. I want to look at the players now, present,” Van Gaal stated. “Surely the first three, four weeks, I will see what they want to do. Then I will see about other players. I want to see the players performing my philosophy.”
What that means is at least for the next three to four weeks, Manchester United’s squad is going to remain the same.
The best recommendation for United fans is to avoid headlines in the English tabloids (Express, Star, Daily Mail, Mirror, Sun, etc.) linking players from other clubs to Old Trafford.
Take the manager at his word. He isn’t playing mind games with the media or other clubs. Van Gaal wants time to get to know the hand he has been dealt.
He confessed that he gave Ed Woodward the “green light” to sign Ander Herrera and Luke Shaw because they had been previously targeted by the club. But Van Gaal gave no indication that he has targeted any other names as possible transfer targets for United.
That means the players who flew to the United States for the club’s summer tour, and the ones who will join up with them following their World Cup holidays, will be given every chance to play a role on Louis Van Gaal’s team.
United have huge holes to fill at both centre-back positions with the departures of Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic. And despite the signings of Herrera and Shaw, the club is still looking for players to step in at left-back and in the midfield.
As Louis Van Gaal is evaluating his squad against MLS teams, other Premier League clubs will be acclimating their new signings to their already competitive sides.
Last season’s third and fourth place teams respectively, Chelsea and Arsenal, have arguably done the best business in the transfer window so far.
Manchester City has added Fernando (Porto), Bacary Sagna (Arsenal) and Wilfredo Caballero (Malaga) to its championship winning squad; and will have another summer to get more accustomed to Manuel Pellegrini’s style.
Liverpool, who finished in second place, has added more quality to its midfield. But the loss of Luis Suarez to Barcelona and the club’s failure (thus far) to add strength and depth to its defense, may end up hurting their title chances in the long run.
But Brendan Rodgers philosophy really took form last season and fans can expect them to continue to be a top four contender.
Everton and Tottenham (fifth and sixth place) have remained relatively unchanged. Although Roberto Martinez side has lost the handful of players they received on-loan last season; the most notable of those being striker Romelu Lukaku.
Tottenham squad remains the same, but the addition of Mauricio Pochettino as the new boss at White Hart Lane should signal even better times in North London.
Can Manchester United with the league or finish in the top three/four in Louis Van Gaal’s first season? Yes.
During this summer’s World Cup in Brazil, the Dutchman proved that with limited time and involvement with a group of players, he could still organize and galvanize a squad to reach greater heights. He proved once again that he is on a shortlist of the best managers in the world.
That being said, Manchester United supporters should temper their expectations for next season. Because their new manager isn’t making any guarantees:
“[Manchester United] is the biggest club in the world. We have everything to prove because last season we were seventh, so [United] are not the best team in the world. There is a lot of expectation and it is a great challenge because of that. I hope I can fulfil the expectation.”
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