The following article is based on my own interpretation of the said events. Any material borrowed from published and unpublished sources has been appropriately referenced. I will bear the sole responsibility for anything that is found to have been copied or misappropriated or misrepresented in the following post.
Anindya Kumar Saha, MBA 2015-17, Vinod Gupta School of Management, IIT Kharagpur
When Manchester United hung on to the top 4 finish last season there was hope that things will get brighter. A possession style of play which believes in slow build up and testing the patience of the opponents have ironically tested the supporter’s patience throughout this two years. It is poles apart from the swashbuckling football under Sir Alex Ferguson when United used to cut the opponents to shreds like a hot knife cutting through butter. While the supporters never liked Van Gaal’s possession style of play they hoped that it will be a stop gap approach and give some solidarity. While continuously criticized throughout the past season United came up with stellar performance against Liverpool and Tottenham to propel themselves to a Champions League spot.
Then came the summer transfer window. Without busying any backup striker,s Van Gaal went on to sell Van Persie and Hernandez at a very low price with respect to United’s standards. A young Anthony martial was bought close to deadline day but with no experienced replacement in attack and for Di Maria, the only conclusion was United had big problems to cope with.
While an opening day win over Swansea showed good signs and raised expectations , results started to dwindle in the coming days and soon the clouds started hovering over the Theater of Dreams. The play went from slow to boring to people falling asleep almost. United started losing on the road and not scoring at home in first half for 11 games in a row.
Man United’s win at Liverpool on January 17 while was seen as a sign of better things to come with their star player Rooney having a turn of form and fortunes in the new year, things soon took a turn for worse with home defeat to Southampton and recent humiliating Europa League loss at Danish minnows FC Midtjylland. A game where the United team looked disjointed and lacking passion. While everyone is now convinced Van Gaal can’t change the script of this plot it looks to be seen can he enforce some damage control.
United hierarchy is certainly in a big fix as they likely want to see this season through. But will Van Gaal be able to give Ed Woodward the breathing space to delay the inevitable sacking of Van Gaal till the end of the season or will he be forced to appoint Mourinho or Giggs soon. It remains to be seen whether the return leg against FC Midtjylland might buy some more time for Van Gaal or be the final nail in the coffin.