Are Man United’s players too scared to play under Louis van Gaal?
After the failed experiment that was David Moyes’ Old Trafford reign – where the Scot often looked out of his depth and intimidated by his senior players – many welcomed the arrival of Louis van Gaal, a known disciplinarian with clear views and a demand for respect.
However, it is this iron fist style of management that has been United’s undoing this year, according to Southampton boss and former Van Gaal assistant Ronald Koeman.
The Saints manager, who could yet pip his old mentor’s side to a coveted top four spot, believes the Red Devils’ squad are too scared of displeasing their manager to play with any real freedom.
United may well occupy a top four berth at present but in truth there has been little improvement on the pitch since Van Gaal replaced Moyes and this despite the arrivals of Radamel Falcao, Angel Di Maria, Ander Herrera, Luke Shaw and Daley Blind.
Koeman says his former employer has undoubted quality but questioned Van Gaal’s wisdom in thinking he alone has all the answers.
“When you bring Van Gaal in the house, you bring in quality. But you also bring in someone who thinks he knows everything. And that will cause clashes,” he said.
“When you have Van Gaal in charge, it is a fact that there is fear in his team. The players have a fear for Mr Van Gaal. That is not always good.”
It is true there is no love lost between the two Dutchmen, following their falling out at Barcelona, but there is no denying that the Red Devils are playing with a cautiousness that does not befit the players at their disposal.
The United board are set to bankroll another huge squad investment programme in the summer, providing Van Gaal can guide United back to the Champions League.
However, results like the weekend’s 2-1 defeat to Swansea will do nothing to boost the confidence of the players, the board or the squad.
The Red Devils remain odds-on to reach the top four at 4/6 but miss out and it could be curtains for Van Gaal’s Old Trafford career.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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