The sacking of David Moyes only 10 months and 51 games into his regime has brought an abrupt halt to what was supposed to be a smooth transition over from the Sir Alex Ferguson era. No one expected instant success from the Chosen One; most United fans knew the magnitude of the task awaiting Moyes, to take over from one of the most successful manager in the history of the game. But certainly no one could have foreseen what has taken place this season: the lowest United finish and points total in the history of the Premier League and at this point no European football next season. Cruel, but Moyes had to go.
This article isn’t to discuss what went wrong for Moyes and why he had to be sacked; as a United fan myself, I’d much rather look towards the future. Currently, the first team is led by club legend Ryan Giggs. I see the brilliant Welshman as a United manager in the future, but the time isn’t right for the number 11 right now. United need rebuilding, and this process needs an experienced, established manager. A manager who can be successful in the market, lead and oversee the rebuilding, and reestablish United as a superpower. Currently, there are only a few managers in the world that can step into what is arguably the biggest job in world football. The problem is, even fewer of these managers are actually available. As a result, there is really only one candidate to take the hotseat at Old Trafford— Louis van Gaal.
The current Dutch national team and former Ajax, AZ Alkmaar, Barcelona, and Bayern Munich manager, Louis van Gaal is a charismatic, energetic, and autocratic manager. He is experienced, knowledgeable, and bold (see the infamous incident in the Bayern locker room); he is his own man and he will have things done his way. At 62, he wouldn’t be the next Sir Alex Ferguson; and that’s probably not what Manchester United need. Looking for another Ferguson will only halt their progress. They need someone with their own identity. Van Gaal can rebuild and set up the team for a younger manager in the form of Giggs, Klopp, Simeone, Solskjaer or whoever else might emerge in the football management industry.
Van Gaal has the experience of winning major trophies in three different leagues and has won the Champions League once; a dramatic contrast to the trophy-less Moyes. Besides his impressive CV, van Gaal will bring back the aura befitting a side that won the league by 11 points last season, a side that won 5 out of the last 7 league titles. Manchester United is a global superpower, a legendary club, yet Moyes seemingly retained his mid-table mentality by calling him team “underdogs” against Liverpool and wanting to aspire to the levels of Manchester City. Van Gaal on the other hand was born to manage big teams, and he has the personality to go with it. Here’s video evidence, you don’t need translations to know what he’s saying.
What van Gaal to Manchester United will do to the club is instill attractive, attacking football. The Dutchman has a set vision of how the game should be played: “You have to play as a team and not as individuals. That’s why I’m always going back to the vision, then the team, and then which players fit into my system, a 4-3-3, because I always play that.” Moyes’ reign was seemingly undermined by player mutinies; expect different under the experienced van Gaal, who does not and will not tolerate dissent. A very similar philosophy to Sir Alex, who ruled with an iron fist, as when he dealt with Roy Keane.
Furthermore, van Gaal has a brilliant track record of promoting youth: “If a young player can do it, then I select him,” he said. Very similar to the “If you’re old enough, you’re good enough” ideology of Manchester United. Xavi and Iniesta made their debuts under him, Manchester United target Toni Kroos became a prominent part of the first team during his reign, and David Alaba was converted to a left-back by him. Xavi and Iniesta are legends of the game now, Kroos and Alaba are key components of arguably the best team in the world. Manchester United have a rich history of youth players, from the Busby Babes, to the Class of ’92 (the current first team manager and coaches!) and now perhaps with the likes of Danny Welbeck, Adnan Januzaj, Jesse Lingard, James Wilson, and more.
There is a sense that van Gaal wouldn’t be the first choice in an ideal world; for most United fans, that would be the brilliant Jurgen Klopp of Borussia Dortmund. But this summer and the next two seasons could be the most important in this illustrious club’s history. There is a fear that United could slip up like Liverpool did in the 90s and could be consigned to 20 odd years of mediocrity like their hated rivals. A major rebuilding is necessary, and the right man has to be chosen. Giggs isn’t ready, Klopp isn’t available, but van Gaal could turn out to be the right choice.
Van Gaal is uncompromising; he has been called “God’s father.” He has fallen out with the boards of Bayern Munich, refused to change his system for Rivaldo, failed to make the 2002 World Cup with the Netherlands, and had a disastrous second term with Barcelona. But his authoritarian style is what is necessary for United at this moment: the Red Devils need a man who will take charge, put everything in order, rebuild the club and oversee the transition, all with a focus on attacking football and an emphasis on youth. He can be the one to set the stage for a manager like Giggs or Klopp to carry on, all while achieving the lofty expectations at Old Trafford. Louis van Gaal is the man for Manchester United, and I hope to see him at Old Trafford next season.