The pressure continues to build for Louis van Gaal as his United team face continued criticism. 21 months into his tenure, with another 15 left on his contract, the former Dutch coach is being held responsible for the current stalling at Manchester United.
The Red Devils’ lucky escape against Sheffield United in the third round of the FA Cup triggered a passionate rant from one of the class of 92’: Paul Scholes, on BT Sport, surmised the majority of the condemnation directed at van Gaal by saying that the fans, players and even LVG look ‘bored’.
However, for various reasons it is unlikely that he will depart before the season is over: for one, Ed Woodward would face an up-hill battle to keep his job as the Glazer’s look for someone to blame for United’s failures since Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement. Thus, Woodward’s hope of clinging onto his handsomely paid role as executive vice-chairman lies on the shoulders of the Dutchman; succinctly, if LVG goes then it is also likely that Woodward will also face the sack.
Supposing United’s fortunes do not drastically change, one cannot ignore the fact that LVG would, in all likelihood, lose his job at the end of the season. Even if this means the exit of Woodward, the United hierarchy would not be able to ignore the cries of the United faithful: no Champions League and no silverware is simply not good enough for a club of such stature. If indeed this does happen, then the club don’t have very far to look to find the ideal replacement: 200 miles south, specifically White Hart Lane. No prizes to those who guess who I am referring to. Mauricio Pochettino is someone who will bring success, style and superiority back to the Theatre of Dreams. Here’s why…
Pochettino’s Spurs are exciting to watch; there’s a fluidity to their passing, which juxtaposes with the stagnant tempo seen at United. Further to this, they’re direct in their passing, always looking to move the ball forward and breach the back-four.
Tottenham have created 254 chances, as opposed to United’s paltry 160; these Squakwa statistics provide evidence for the above assertion. Alongside this, and United fans be weary of such a shocking statement, they score goals. 34 so far, in fact. They’re fourth for goals scored, behind Manchester City, Leicester and Everton. Granted, they rely on the services of Harry Kane, who has netted 11 this term, yet Kane could follow Pochettino to Old Trafford.
Such attacking football was also evident during his time at Southampton and one would only assume his would continue in the same fashion if he were to take over at United. Pochettino is certainly capable of resurrecting the attacking spirit that evaporated with SAF’s retirement.
Manchester United have a long tradition of bringing through academy prospects, symbolised with the class of 92’. Despite all van Gaal’s failures, he has continued to give youngsters their chance: he has given starts to McNair, Lingard, and Borthwick Jackson, to name but a few.
The current Spurs manager would, undoubtedly, maintain this history; Pochettino is an evident fan of the exuberance and determination invariably synonymous with young players. The Argentinian has overseen the remarkable progress of Kane, even investing faith into the England international when he hit a barren spell at the start of the season. This belief in players, regardless of their age, is an ideology prominent at United, and is a quality existent within Pochettino.
Rare praise for van Gaal has come in the form of the defensive stability he has implemented; such a feat is even more impressive when one considers the laughable defensive options available to him.
The discipline at the back will not be undone under Pochettino: Spurs, currently, have the best defensive record in the league, conceding only 16 goals. Although defensive rigidity has never been top of the list of expectations at United, being sacrificed for adventurous play, this assurance that the Red Devils would continue to keep clean sheets is an added bonus.
Awareness of the league
Having managed in the Premier League for two and half seasons, the ex-PSG player knows the tribulations that this league presents; he is accustomed to the pace and physicality of the league, and, more importantly, knows how to win in such an environment.
He took over a relegation battling Southampton, to the surprise of many considering how well Nigel Adkins had done, enhanced their attacking tendencies and ensured stability in the Premier League. His success, as we know, didn’t go un-noticed and he became the 10th Spurs manager in 12 seasons. His first season in charge saw The Lilywhites take fifth place, missing out on the Champions League by six points. It seems as though his ideas have now been fully implemented as his side currently sit 4th, only three points off top-spot.
Further to this, Pochettino is constantly improving as a manager: he habitually analyses his teams’ performances, locating and eradicating weaknesses. One example can be found in the way in which he has ensured defence solidity at Spurs: they let in 53 goals last season, the worst in the top 10. This ability to recognise fault in his methods and act upon them is priceless; LVG, on the other hand, is blinded by his arrogance and cannot see the glaringly obvious flaws in his tactics.
Some may seek to dispute the claim that Pochettino is the ideal replacement by demonstrating his non-existent silverware as a coach. Indeed, United demand trophies. However, as a player he won the Copa del Rey twice with Espanyol, so he is not completely ignorant in how to obtain silver. Moreover, there is no reason why Tottenham cannot win the league this year, considering their only three points off an Arsenal side who have a tendency to capitulate.
United fans were deeply saddened when news broke of SAF’s retirement; still, they hoped that a new dynasty would form under David Moyes. Instead, the ex-Everton coach deepened the feeling of desperation and misery at the club. Then came the title-winning, take-no-nonsense boisterous van Gaal: his arrogance would surely inject a renewed confidence into a lacklustre squad. Sadly, for United fans, but to the amusement of rival supporters, this isn’t the case and remains unlikely to change. It is my opinion that Mauricio Pochettino will finally take United to the top again, save United from slipping into mediocrity like rivals Liverpool, and provide a genuine feeling of excitement to a fan-base that deserves nothing less.