Manchester United have no plans to replace their heavily criticized manager Louis van Gaal despite weekend reports proclaiming the club has reached a two-year agreement with Jose Mourinho to take charge next season.
United’s board is firmly behind Van Gaal, having never wavered in their support of the Dutchman and his three-year project in Manchester.
While this news will undoubtedly rile many United supporters, the fact is Van Gaal methodically revamped the squad over the course of four transfer windows after the stormy tenure of David Moyes.
Aging and unsettled players have been sold off, and United’s squad has become more youthful and cohesive. The team, which quit under Moyes, has shown tremendous chemistry since Van Gaal’s arrival; and the current blend of youth and experience is showing the signs of something special.
Most fans and pundits will disagree, pointing to the team’s slow and plodding style as well as it’s failed European campaign and current position outside of the top four. They continually overlook the fact that United were situated at the top of the Premier League earlier this season, before injury – a number which grew to fourteen at one point – slowly took its toll on Van Gaal’s squad.
Van Gaal gambled and chose to keep his squad size small. He allowed disgruntled fringe players to leave and placed his faith in United’s academy – should the club need them to step in for the first-choice players.
The manager’s detractors will say the Dutch tactician was “lucky” to unearth the talents of Marcus Rashford, Timothy Fosu-Mensah and Jesse Lingard. But that shows a level of ignorance on their part.
The bottom line is player performances are improving under Van Gaal and his strategy is beginning to pay off. His ambition has been for something bigger and longer lasting for the club. The Dutchman’s goal has always been for something more than a team which relies on star players shouldering the load.
Van Gaal is nurturing a “team” – absent of prima donnas – which is versatile enough to adjust to the flow of the game. He is steadily turning positional players into complete footballers who can play comfortably in any area of the pitch.
He has shown confidence and patience in United’s players during a difficult period; while keeping the team in striking distance of a FA Cup title and Champions League qualification – despite a staggering injury toll which has devastated United’s squad this season.
While the fans have cried for Van Gaal’s head, club legends Sir Alex Ferguson and Sir Bobby Charlton have publicly and privately supported the Dutch manager; and United officials have begun preparations for next season with Van Gaal remaining in charge.