Cleat Geeks

Win Some,Lose Some,Draw Some : The Same Questions Haunt LVG

FergusonWavingWay back in what some Manchester United supporters would call the ‘Golden Age’ when Sir Alex Ferguson ruled the roost at Manchester United there was a certain process when it came to pre-match press conferences. Usually the day before the game Ferguson would greet the press with a certain banter, then speak about the coming game, then give his thoughts, take questions and disappear.

It would be remiss of me to say that Ferguson’s press conferences were always an uplifting experience. At times Ferguson was the pit bull you crossed the street to avoid, and if he took a dislike to a journalist, said journalist would find himself barred from the holy of holies, perhaps for a week or so or even a lifetime. Ferguson, like the proverbial elephant, never forgot a wrong or a slight to his team or his character or his family.

Fast forward to the present incumbent in the Old Trafford hot seat, Louis Van Gaal and his press conferences before and after the forthcoming match. These have lately become more focused on his particular future rather than his team tactics and the onslaught from the media is beginning to show. For a man of vast experience in world football Van Gaal is singularly reactive to the questions regarding his team, his job and his philosophy.manu_lvg

Like the perfect storm fate has decided that certain portents would collide about halfway through Van Gaal’s three year contract. To be fair Van Gaal has added to the mix with his own brand of ‘Hubble, Bubble Toil and Trouble’ over the last year and a half with his mantras of ‘process and philosophy’. The team has played badly and very badly, and the initial expectation that lifted the gloom left by David Moyes sacking has evaporated as quickly as the early morning mist on United’s home field.

When you add to this mix the fact that there is a seasoned manager out of work, and who, if reports are correct, is desperate to be the next Manchester United manager things may get very interesting.

The self proclaimed ‘Special One’ Jose Mourinho’s name has hung around Old Trafford since the day he was sacked by Chelsea. It is now being brought up in pre-match and post-match press conferences by journalists who it seems want a response about his possible arrival.

jose-mourinho_gty_1296177cLately that response from Van Gaal has become more vigorous and more vocal as the overall pressure of managing one of the worlds biggest clubs seemingly weighs on the managers shoulders.

It looks from the outside that something is not right at Old Trafford and like a good mystery all the facts are not out in the open. In the end it is a simple matter for the CEO Ed Woodward to sort out, either to come out and support Van Gaal, or stop the gossip by announcing that Van Gaal will be sacked or leave by personal choice at the end of the season.The lack of verbal confirmation either way unfortunately has been singularly absent from Woodward and hence the tabloids are making hay while the sun shines.

Recently when asked by a journalist why United had not denied the constant stories of his impending departure Van Gaal went on the defensive and argued “why should United deny a story that has been made up by the media?” He might be right to argue the case but the trouble is he is doing it in front of the world’s press and that does not do Van Gaal’s image any favors whatsoever.

With a slight upturn in form regarding United’s results lately perhaps Van Gaal has won some extra time to get things right, if indeed his job is on the line.

Manchester United Executive Vice Chairman Ed Woodward. Photo by John Peters/Man Utd via Getty Images

Manchester United Executive Vice Chairman Ed Woodward. Photo by John Peters/Man Utd via Getty Images

However it is difficult to be certain of anything at Manchester United at the moment with Jose Mourinho confident of replacing Van Gaal in the near future. Mourinho apparently confided in his friends that he will be taking over from Van Gaal in the summer and his friends duly leaked it to social media, the pot has being stirred once again.

Perhaps Mourinho does have a deal in place or perhaps he is just making waves to add to the general confusion, only time will tell. Whatever, it will not go down well at Old Trafford whose world wide image is in need of a facelift on and off the playing pitch to have this confrontation played out in the public arena.

Van Gaal needs to remember this the next time he sits in front of the worlds press and refrain from offering personal digs and insults at the waiting press. Mourinho on the other hand needs to stop using social media as a way of recruiting one of the top jobs in soccer, allegedly.

One other angle to all this skullduggery is that Mourinho was apparently turned down for the managerial post at Old Trafford three years ago because of his playing style. Mourinho’s style however has not changed so for United to want to employ the Portuguese guru now might be seen as strange and a change of philosophy in the Old Trafford boardroom.

PepGuardiolaThat change of though might have been brought about by the announcement last week that Pep Guardiola is to become the new manager of Manchester City in the summer. Although there is never a guarantee that any one manager will bring success, with Guardiola City have recruited the man most other clubs coveted. It may be that the board at United will seek to fight fire with fire in bringing in the mercurial Mourinho.

To be fair to Van Gaal, Mourinho and Manchester United’s worldwide fan base the club needs to make a statement of intent now and not wait till the end of the season. Otherwise they risk daily and weekly turmoil in the media world which will do nothing for the mood of the team in coming matches.

With 13 games to go, United at the moment are 5 points off fourth place and a guaranteed place in the Champions League next season. If they are to achieve that goal starting with a win at Sunderland on Saturday everyone must focus on the job at hand and leave the speculation where it belongs, for now at least.

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