Search icon


22nd Dec 2015

Louis van Gaal is a shadow of the confidently defiant man that arrived at Manchester United

Simon Lloyd

After the farcical tenure of David Moyes, Louis van Gaal was a reason for Manchester United supporters to be excited.

Of course, it could be argued that after the club had suffered such a spectacular fall from grace in such a short space of time, anyone but Moyes would have been a reason for optimism.

Not as trendy or glamorous as the Guardiolas and Mourinhos of the managerial world, but Van Gaal still seemed like a good fit. Here was someone with a wealth of experience that would help steady the rocking United ship.

When it became clear that Van Gaal was destined for the Old Trafford, many of the club’s supporters were won over by what they saw. In contrast with Moyes’s mild-mannered, almosy friendly approach to the media, the Dutchman demonstrated from an early stage that he wouldn’t take any nonsense.

The uncompromising, confident and at times abrupt style that he demonstrated with the media would also be the perfect tonic for calming what had many had reported as an unruly set of players.

The domineering style of his press conferences were a feature of Van Gaal’s first year at Old Trafford. As he guided the club back into the Champions League, there was an arrogance about him that many United supporters enjoyed.

A promising start to the second season saw United briefly top the Premier League, but things soon began to sour.

In the league, United’s goals dried up and momentum was lost. After 120 minutes of their Capital One Cup tie with Middlesbrough, they were defeated on penalties. An early Champions League exit in Germany was followed by two further league defeats at Bournemouth and at home to Norwich.

As the hopes fade of a successful second season for the ‘Iron Tulip’, so does his confidence. His interviews and press conferences in recent weeks have seemed a far cry from those that were a feature of the early days of his United career.

Following the loss to Norwich, he went as far as admitting that he was uncertain about his future at the club.

“Yes of course I am worried about that because I know that belief in a manager is very important, and when you lose the games you play then the belief in a manager shall decrease,” he admitted.

The cocksure, imperious showings have made way for a much more humble, subdued Van Gaal. Could it be that even he knows that his time in Manchester is coming to a sooner-than-expected end?