Remember David Moyes? Likeable enough chap, he was floundering for a while trying to do a job that he was in over his head with. The fans showed a lot of patience, but they eventually turned when he started spouting off killer sound bytes like how United should aspire to be like City. Fans don’t like that. Not so much the sentiment in itself, but the sub text. It shows weakness, a recalibration of the standards, an attempt to lower expectations by a man who knows he can’t deliver what he was meant to.
Living in the past. That’s where van Gaal thinks Man United fans are if they think that their team should be aiming higher than 4th, or aren’t happy to be in the Europa League, or still lust after trophies. I guess there is a fine line between living in the past, and striving to maintain higher standards, and in some cases, it’s easy to get muddled. I don’t feel that’s the case here. Watching United play these days can age you. It really can, I know I feel exhausted – physically and mentally – after just watching LVG’s philosophy in all its glory. Because of the fact that each game lasts for what seems like forever, the days of a Sir Alex led United seem really far back in the past, but they aren’t really.
If LvG had taken over the job at United three or four managers down the line after Sir Alex had retired, with each passing manager doing a little bit more damage than their predecessor, and van Gaal was charged with trying to rebuild, I could understand the sentiment. But Ferguson retired in May 2013, van Gaal started in July 2014. A year, and one short, failed manager sit in between the Ferguson and van Gaal eras. That’s not enough time to refer to the Ferguson years as some long time ago fairytale.
To accuse anyone else of “living in the past” is the van Gaal equivalent of picking up a massive boulder and throwing it at you from inside his single paned glass house. It’s a really weird, and dangerous line to take for a man who has to constantly remind people about all the achievements on his CV from yesteryear. To me, this is van Gaal following in Moyes’ ill-fated footsteps and attempting to lower the expectations of the media and United fans. He is floundering, his infamous big balls are shriveling up and he knows it.
I know it’s in the past, so why bring it up, but van Gaal was the one who rocked up into his first press conference at United boasted about a title within three years. He bought himself some time by claiming it would take three months for the players to get his methods (so you can write off the first season because of thick players) and then they would be challenging, if not winning a title in the second or third season. Cause that’s what happened at all this other clubs.*cough*Living in the past*cough*.
Van Gaal has his philosophy, but so do Man United – or at least they used to. Principals, traditions, style, whatever you want to call it, it all basically boils down to the same thing, and football clubs pride themselves on their identities; The United Way, The Liverpool Way and so on. United, the club, have lost sight of that, but the fans haven’t. Every manager that comes into a job will want to put his own stamp on things, but there needs to be a respect to the clubs own philosophy and traditions. These principals have been instilled in the club years before the current manager arrives, and should be in place years after he has vacated the post.
Maybe they were cut too deep by the Moyes fiasco, but the decision makers at United seem to have been willing to park up, or completely abandon their own philosophy in order to allow van Gaal to implement his own. The fans aren’t as willing. Why should everything that has been instilled throughout the clubs history be put on hold for a short term custodian? It’s not just Ferguson, there is Busby too. And even someone like Ron Atkinson, who may not have enjoyed the same success, but he still got what it meant to be a Man United manager and the expectations that come with it – and I’m not talking about silverware.
Van Gaal might like to take passive aggressive digs at the United faithful about living in the past, but the fact is, their past is glorious, and the present is abysmal. People wouldn’t be looking backwards if what van Gaal was delivering was acceptable. I don’t even care about the money spent, the least I expect is some heart. If the players simply aren’t as good as the opposition, that’s one thing, but heart, passion, energy and enthusiasm can go a long way. Instead what we are witnessing at United is the greatest collection of spineless eunuchs I’ve ever seen grace a football pitch. A group of individuals with almost a willingness to accept defeat. Unacceptable.
Living in the past is one of only two options available to Man United fans at the moment. Nobody wants to live in the present if this is what is on offer. United fans have got to the stage now where they want to either live in a van Gaal-less past or day dream about living in a van Gaal-less future.