There May Be Trouble Ahead...

In the worst kept secret in football, Louis van Gaal has finally been appointed. Adam Bate discusses why this may be a gamble for the club, despite the Dutchman's impressive record...

Last Updated: 19/05/14 at 14:11 Post Comment

Latest Articles

Football People On TV: Gordon Strachan

Post comment

Chippy arse? Aye...do you want some? Wee Gordie is never anything other than entertaining, even if he is wearing adult man¿s shorts as trousers. Especially so....

F365's Transfer Guide - Part Five

Post comment

Our final part, and the question of what on earth will happen at West Ham? Plus there is much to ponder for Spurs - evolution or yet another revolution at White Hart Lane...

All Articles

This is no longer a continuity gig. The option of just ticking things over has gone. A disastrous seventh-place finish has put financial pressure on the club that must be fixed quickly - and that means a swift return to the Champions League is non-negotiable.

As a result, they've turned to a veteran. Van Gaal may be a decade younger than Sir Alex Ferguson but he was out there winning Champions Leagues before the United legend had worked out how to safely negotiate the competition's group stages. And his job will be to make big changes.

None of the potential candidates offered a straightforward solution for United. Jurgen Klopp ruled himself out but whether he could have transferred Borussia Dortmund's fast transitions to a team whose prized assets lack pace was a concern even if he had been available.

Diego Simeone is the coach of the moment but might best be classified as an exciting gamble. While Atletico Madrid is a club of rich tradition, Rene Meulensteen's analogy of the yacht and the cruise ship that so perfectly summed up Moyes' struggles would seem equally applicable here.

Carlo Ancelotti might have been able to accommodate the stars - he even won a Champions League playing the sort of 4-3-1-2 formation that might keep Juan Mata, Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie happy - but coaxing the Italian from a club on the brink of La Decima was unlikely.

In terms of pedigree, Van Gaal was arguably the outstanding candidate. This is an experienced manager with a big enough character and reputation to take on the job. But like many of the alternatives, his arrival does not come without risk.

The retirement of Ferguson was an opportunity to build a modern club with a structure that could more easily survive the exit of one man. Instead, United are in danger of exchanging one 'dictatorship' for another - with no guarantee this one will prove quite so benevolent.

Van Gaal's abrasive character is the stuff of legend and is not well-suited to rule by consensus. As Bayern Munich's former sporting director Christian Nerlinger put it: "He must realise that in this club there are other people who are also responsible for sporting matters." If United are to give Van Gaal the control he reporedly craves, it would represent something of a leap of faith.

At least there will be a clear philosophy on the field, although the practical problems of inheriting a squad not of his making can be easily anticipated. Van Gaal's 4-3-3 is likely to feature Van Persie in the central role but will surely force either Rooney or Mata away from their favoured position - not ideal when each has just signed a lucrative new long-term contract at the club.

Even that relationship with Van Persie must be regarded as subject to change ahead of Van Gaal taking charge of Holland at the forthcoming World Cup. Indeed, that tournament threatens to shape the thinking on the new man before he even arrives.

United could be appointing the World Cup-winning coach. However, they could also be appointing Van Gaal only to see his Dutch side crash out of a group that includes Spain and Chile - leading some to conclude that his best days are behind him. Just two league titles (one in Holland and one in Germany) since the turn of the century certainly leave the CV open to (mis)interpretation.

It might seem strange to style a World Cup in Brazil as a distraction, but that's surely how United will see it. Moyes complained of a lack of time in last summer's window, but he was in his Carrington office for the start of July. Van Gaal will want to be preparing for a World Cup quarter-final on that date this time around.

That's far from ideal given the issues that will need to be addressed and places much of the workload on Ed Woodward in what ought to be a busy summer of business. Senior players must be moved on and the team reshaped and renewed for a pivotal campaign.

Last summer that change didn't happen as Moyes' idea of transition was to rip out the coaching staff but retain the ageing players. Now Van Gaal must institute the necessary changes on the field and do so against the backdrop of huge pressure to return to the top four. At least there is no European football to sway him from his focus.

What is clear is that United have discovered to their cost the transient nature of stability. Anyone can make a managerial appointment that goes wrong. It's two poor managerial decisions in a row that really scuppers you. For that reason, United will be anxious for Van Gaal's reign to start well. Anything less could prove a big problem indeed.

Adam Bate - follow him on Twitter here

Football365 Facebook Fan Page

The Football365 fan page is a great place to meet like minded people, have football related discussions and make new friends.

Most Commented

Readers' Comments

H

ang on there!! We've only just won the second in a row. Don't we have to win three, like Brazil, to get to keep the Cup permanently at our stadium? ;-)

gutbukkit
Emirates to sponsor FA Cup

T

ypical Bodgers, in desperate need of a defensive midfielder and go for a floaty number 10 type midfielder. BODGERS OUT.

uncle monty
The Home Gossip

B

enteke is an absolute steal for £32.5m, he would get into any team in the world (except Barcelona) at the moment. I've seen many very good strikers in my 30+ years as a Villa fan. This guy is the best without question.

sparkigol
Benteke's £32.5m release clause

Latest Photos

Footer 365

Newcastle to talk with Patrick Vieira over managerial vacancy

Patrick Vieira will hold talks with Newcastle over the managerial vacancy at St James' Park, Sky sources understand.

Southampton into Europa League after Aston Villa lose FA Cup final

Kelvin Davis says Southampton should be proud of their season after their place in the Europa League was confirmed.

Arsenal 4-0 Aston Villa: Dominant Gunners seal record FA Cup victory

Holders Arsenal won the FA Cup for a record 12th time after beating Aston Villa 4-0 in a one-sided final at Wembley.

Mail Box

Players Must Stand Up For Qatar Boycott

Players, not bureaucrats, hold the key to boycotting Qatar. Also in the afternoon mailbox: Wenger is right to rotate, Zlatan can dribble, and it's Barca v Ajax in the budget final...

What Would You Do If You Were Blatter?

Step into Sepp's shoes, is the invitation from one mailboxer. Also: United already have their new number one, Rodgers deserves time, and the best Budget XI so far...

© 2015 Sky Ltd. All Rights Reserved A Sky Sports Digital Media company