Louis Van Gaal’s time at United would largely be associated with laboured football, erratic comments and poor transfer dealings—a discounted sale of Di Maria a prime example. Such is the high cost of failing at a huge club like Manchester United.
But there are several reasons he should be given credit for United’s current fortunes. After a messy two-year spell at United, many expected the veteran Dutch coach to take some time off before returning to management. This was evidenced in the number of clubs (notably interest from Asia) that came calling for his services after he was dismissed by United in the summer of 2016.
He however confirmed yesterday that he would likely not be returning to the dugout again, noting that the sizeable payout offered by United when he was sacked was enough financial comfort to resist any offers. And with that confirmation, we are keen to highlight the positives from what was rather considered a gloomy 24 months at Old Trafford.
Youthful Exuberance: For all his shortcomings and mishaps at United, LVG excelled at one thing—promoting talent. Despite a bunch of them farmed out on loan to get meaningful game time, one can’t help but look positively at the future when names like Rashford, Martial, Pereira, Lingard and Fosu Mensah are mentioned. Most of these youngsters have become game changers and useful squad members during the course of this season. The future looks bright for United, and the credit has to go to Van Gaal.
De Gea Remained: Selling Di Maria for a fraction of what United spent to land him a year earlier was a poor bit of business, but he more than made up for it when he doggedly resisted attempts by Real Madrid to price David De Gea away from Old Trafford. Keeping the United goalkeeper ensured a cumbersome search for a decent replacement was averted and a solid goalkeeper was at Mourinho’s disposal.
A Solid Backline: Albeit the addition of Eric Baily, who has missed much of the season to injury or the African Cup of Nations, Mourinho hasn’t felt compelled to rebuild his backline. This shows the faith he has in the group of defenders LVG left behind for Mourinho.
The Elusive FA Cup: LVG confirmed in his interview yesterday that United’s FA Cup triumph could pass as his greatest triumph, given the circumstances under which he and United emerged victories and the mood around Old Trafford during that period. But this shouldn’t be for the Dutchman alone. A trophy-less spell under David Moyes and persistent poor cup runs started to make United lose confidence. The FA Cup win helped remind United of how to win and returned belief to Carrington, even before Mourinho arrived.