Mails: Eight men who could replace Van Gaal

Date published: Tuesday 26th January 2016 10:58

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Van Gaal deserves credit
For all the vitriol directed at Van Gaal and his inadequacies this season, Van Gaal deserves credit for being candid and taking responsibility by offering his resignation. How many other managers have we seen cling onto their job despite horrendous results and speak utter garbage in front of the cameras?

Personally, I would rather see Van Gaal stay unless Fergie was willing to return to the dugout until the end of the season. Anyone have better alternatives?
Wayne, ManYoo, Singapore


The buck doesn’t stop at Van Gaal
Speaking as a Manchester United fan growing increasingly frustrated with the performances of the team. I can’t help but feel that while Van Gaal has become the primary focus for the heavy criticism being levelled, there is a certain amount of leniency being afforded to a number of characters when it comes to apportioning the blame, namely the players and the board.

I’ll start with the players and keep it simple – have any of the signings since Robin Van Persie justified the hefty price tag and reputation they have arrived with? I don’t think there has been a single post Fergie signing that has in any way, shape or form cemented their place as a nailed on starter in our team. It’s an absolute embarrassment that we’ve spent the amount of money we have on players that either clearly weren’t up for it (Di Maria), aren’t good enough (Fellaini) or even worse seem more content with looking and acting like a superstar off the pitch before the performances begin to warrant it (Depay).

I think it also goes without saying that the un-droppable club captain is not pulling up the sort of trees you’d expect for the princely sum of 300 grand a week he’s currently pocketing.

This brings me to my next point, which would be who has been responsible for recruitment the past few seasons, is it the manager? Is it the board? Does Ed Woodward have a quick whip through the latest Football Manager database and turn up with wheelbarrows of cash accordingly?

It concerns me that of the above the latter suggestion seems the most likely recruitment policy currently in place. I think we’ve absolutely failed in every window since we beat City (remember they were also a very interested party) to Van Persie and sent a clear message about our own title ambitions. If you look at the windows that have opened and closed since then the signings made by Chelsea, City and Arsenal since have been far more ambitious than our own – if you’re going to buy the title the blue print for success is actually quite easy to follow but we don’t even seem to have the competence at boardroom or more specifically recruitment level to accomplish even that.

At this stage you start looking long and hard at the boardroom and asking serious questions about when heads are going to start rolling. How can you spend the obscene amount of money that’s been spent over the past few summers and have little to no progress to show for it?


So, Ed Woodward is fighting to save Van Gaal’s job. I am pretty sure United’s season is being directed by M.Night Shyamalan. The absolutely terrible quality, the bad dialogue, the horrible acting and now this plot twist at the end.

Yup, we are in ‘Lady in the Water’ territory now.

Kay (LVG and Woodward Out)


Potential replacements
With it looking (finally) as if LvG could be put us out of misery in the few days I thought I would have a look at a few potential replacements:

Giggs- Most likely to get it until end of the season. I don’t think he is entirely trusted by the board or else they would have let van Gaal walk at xmas. Fergie is highly unlikely to step back into the limelight and tarnish his reputation, so Giggsy would be on his own.

Mourinho- Despite the negatives like his personality & controversy he causes I think he is the best choice. Especially seeing as he is both available and seems keen. People call his football boring however his early Chelsea teams & Real Madrid side were good to watch (I know I will get crucified for that comment). Fergie was known to play pretty boring stuff when needs be. He would guarantee Champions League and potentially some silverware. Wouldn’t leave the club in great shape but I don’t think Utd are in a place where they can afford a punt on another ‘process manager’.

Pochettino- Doing great work with Spurs, especially with younger players which Utd have a lot of. Some debate about whether he would leave Spurs, won’t get into that. Wouldn’t leave mid season with Spurs in the title hunt. He would likely need at least a year with the players to get them playing the way he wants. That would be my concern, I don’t think the club can afford to wait that long. Would likely look to move Rooney on.

Koeman– Doing great work on a budget with Southampton. Has them playing lovely football. Has them playing quite a simple but effective style, didn’t seem to take him an age to do it either. Would be interesting to see what he could do with better players & more money. His (or maybe it’s Southampton’s in general) recruitment seems good. Would probably just identify good players to fit his system and buy them. Not likely to spend the summer chasing Neymar & Bale.

Guardiola- The perfect candidate but seems likely to go to City.

Simeone- He’s just a younger Mourinho. His teams are very functional and very hard to beat. Lack of English would be a worry, I wonder could he get his message across as effectively. Seems fairly happy at Athletico anyway.

Blanc- Knows the club, seems intelligent. Wouldn’t focus much on his league success seeing as his team probably cost more than all the others combined. Would be curious to see how he does in the Champions League. If they don’t win it he could look for a new challenge.

Pellegrini- Very left field candidate. Nice man, had success with City. Teams play attractive football. Certainly no guarantee of success but he would be worth a look. He would also be available and gettable which is a plus.

My knowledge of European football outside the big clubs is dreadful so there could be great options I am missing. Conte, Allegri, Tuchel, Sampaoli could be good but I don’t know.

My vote is for Mourinho because I’m afraid of what will happen if they go another 2/3 seasons without winning something, but if they don’t want him I think Koeman could be the man. Thoughts?
Dan, Ireland MUFC (Imagine how hated Utd would be if they started winning things under Mourinho)


Joyce to the world
‘Damned if we do, damned if we don’t’ has been the tone with United fans in the mailbox with regards to the future of one Louis Van Gaal. Personally, I’d back any manager as long as he has the players on his side; without the players’ trust, a manager must realize his job is infinitely harder.

And so, if reports are to be believed, LVG is walking a tight rope and about to topple over any second, leaving the question: who/what next?

I will genuinely refuse to fulfill my lifelong dream of visiting Old Trafford if Mourinho is hired (yuck); Ryan Giggs simply does not even match the confidence even LVG provided upon his hiring; Pep seems unavailable till the summer atleast. All this while trying to make top 4 and play ‘The United Way’ (more so if LVG is sacked). Alex (Can we have Alex Neill?), Leeds mentions Nicky, Butt I’d look more towards Warren Joyce. Hear me out:

If there’s one way to summarize ‘The United Way’ (I hate that phrase) its this: quick, lethal, expansive football and a squad that has a strong core of youngsters developed out of the same school of football. That’s it. Now Joyce’s men have had over 50 shots in the last two-three games, been on a multiple game winning streak and scored over twenty goals in the process… and not for the first time either. Moreover, this u21 squad includes players like Varela, Perreira, Januzaj,
Keane, Weir, Lingard and maybe Wilson (once he’s found again) who are all players trying (and thus far failing to varying degrees) to scratch the first eleven.
Joyce can be handed the position (joint with Giggs if necessary) to use the time between now and May to blood in all the players who should be in the first team squad and get shot of those who can’t.

I’ve never read a negative word about the man but I’m also a supporter via the internet and thus not one who’s kept full tabs on the u21 team. This may be a move to shoot top 4 aspirations but frankly this season and the last has taught us fans that 1) we can live without Champions League football and 2) the club is one of perhaps three who can afford to do so too. This might be hopelessly romantic but the objective of this move isn’t to deliver CL football, its to reinvigorate the squad’s mindset in order to try again and better next year. If top 4 is still achieved (and it can be) then perhaps the Giggs-Joyce axis can have a 100 mill to see what they’d like this summer too.

I also genuinely believe this is the best way to advertise yourself as club in order to persuade a man like Pep Guardiola. A youth-based club whereby the u21s and first team follow a similar system would sound like a similar platform to a place he’s worked at before. He, too, won’t immediately need the CL… he’s won more than Chelsea FC.
Emad MUFC Boston


Rather fail with LVG than appoint Mourinho
It looks like LVG is a dead man walking, and there’s no way he’s carrying on past this season if he makes it that far. I don’t hate the man, but it hasn’t worked. No hard feelings, your style just isn’t suited to the club and its culture at this point in time.

But I would rather have Louis van Gaal be in charge of United for 10 years and have us never score a first half goal again if it meant we kept Jose Mourinho out of Old Trafford.

And here’s why. I have no doubt at all that the six-page letter thing is true. The Independent is a good paper and Miguel Delaney is a Proper Journalist. For Mourinho to do that is to completely dispel any myth that he has respect or reverance for Van Gaal for a start. I can’t even be bothered to list the various awful things he’s done, but the Carneiro affair was probably one of the most unpleasant things I’ve ever witnessed in football.

Has it really come to being torn about whether or not to hire this man? Is football, and Manchester United, now so amoral and obsessed with success and money and noodle deals and shoe deals and whatever else deals that it will sit there and say, “Yep, this guy’s our man”? Yes, clearly. It’s thoroughly depressing.

And since when were Pep Guardiola and Jose Mourinho the only two managers in existence? How about this idea Ed Woodward, considering how well hiring the last available ‘big name’ is faring. Do some research. Some real work. Some scouting. Some interviewing. Hire some experts to help you. You know, like you would in any other kind of business.

That’s what we need to change. The way the club is run as much as the manager. SAF’s man management of the players got us through towards the end. We don’t have that now. We need a director of football and a head coach. We need to adjust to reality. Now.
Chris (How awful did Tim Sherwood look on MOTD?) MUFC


United need Bielsa
Lay off attacking football, Chris {posh brackets} Wolves uses the quite frankly ridiculous notion that results are more important and that the aesthetics of performance shouldn’t be a factor. Now I remember when Wolves went down, was it scintillating football that brought you down or dour football? Apart from the excellent, balls to the wall, Blackpool we rarely see attacking teams dropping. Teams do need a balance of grit and aesthetics but the caliber of players determines your position and playing to their collective and individual strengths. Chris’ (Can I call you Chris) aforementioned managers Big Sam, Moyes and Pulis would buy players who were average and maximize their potential and then buy one exceptional player. Martinez has genuine talents that are yet to maximize theirs fully.

Now I like Martinez and in the same vein is a manager named Bielsa. United need Bielsa. Guardiola called him the best manager. He led Marseille to fourth place after replacing Jose Anigo while scoring the second highest number of goals only bettered by PSG. Plus, he is available and he seems to like impossible jobs. He has similar traits to LVG and it may irritate the fan base but he is pure class

In short, if United don’t sort this out soon. We will do a Liverpool.
Nelson MUFC(we are entitled)


I read with interest Dale May, Swindon Wengerite’s email on Per Mertesacker. I may be late to this party but I have to put forward my ha’pence on this and say I disagree with Dale.

Now, the BFG seems like a top chap. Joined us in our low period, seems proud to wear the shirt and is our captain. I love having him around the club and appreciate what he does for us.

And what he does is 90% great. He has many good attributes. And, in a lot of games, his attributes can mask his glaring, huge, colossal weakness. In addition, he has the luxury of playing in our team, which digs him out of his pace-deficient hole. 90% of games against weaker opposition we control the ball, the run of play and he gets enough protection from Coquelin et al in front of him. He doesn’t get exposed.

The problem is as Dale actually identifies. Against better oppo, when we have less of the ball, when the team as a whole is more stretched, when he can be isolated by great players his deficiency isn’t just an individual issue (like Giroud’s variable finishing or Theo’s lack of touch) – it’s a huge huge downfall. It’s a downfall because it impacts how the whole team plays. Watch us defend. Ozil and Giroud work hard to close down space up front. They are often let down because the rest of the team don’t exert a full press behind them. Why? Because we don’t want to step too high up the pitch – we know our backline isn’t quick enough to cover huge areas of grass behind it.

This combination means that in the other 10% of games against decent opposition or those with lots of pace we struggle. Think back to the shellackings away from home we got in the last couple of seasons or the disappointment of Monaco. The German national team identified this for us at the World Cup. Per wasn’t trusted in the team for the big games against the best opposition. He compromised the team’s style of play as a whole.

As I say, I’m a big fan of Per the guy, the captain and the majority of what he brings as a player. I just think his deficiencies will stop us from being a great side. In an ideal world I’d probably want him as our third choice centre back.
Josh, AFC


Arsenal need more Coq
Southampton Home, Bournemouth Away, Leicester Home.

That’s our next 3 matches. Win all those, which we can do, and we will probably be top of the league and facing a trip to Manyoo – where, admittedly, there will be more mental toughness bullsh*t spouted by our players, our manager, the pundits and the press.

Things are not all bad. Alexis is back and looking sharp, and it won’t be long before our Coq is back in action – he is in full training with the squad right now.

Maybe it’s because I spent the weekend looking after a vomiting toddler with diarrhea and then had a molar tooth extracted this morning, so in comparison the loss to Chelsea was not as disappointing for me, but reading the mailbox on Monday you would have thought that Arsenal were about to go out of existence.

Yes, it was disappointing but come on people. We lost to a good team because one of our defenders stupidly got sent off. The only thing you can read into the game is that Mertesacker made a bad decision which cost us the game.
Adonis (looking forward to seeing Elnenny in the Cup) Stevenson, AFC


Chelsea fans
I sent a letter into yesterday mornings mailbox which was successfully published. I ended with “when will Chelsea fans do what the rest of us want and f**k off” in my brackets. It seems that Andy took umbrage with this remark and used it again but with reference to Dubliners instead of Chelsea fans.

I must clarify that I was not talking about all Chelsea fans or Chelsea fans for beating Arsenal (not even a fan), but instead was referring to the Chelsea fans caught on video destroying a cafe and fighting the owner which resurfaced and circulated on social media last night (which I just watched before writing my email), singing “We do what we want”. It is those Chelsea fans that must f**k off as they are utter scum.
Conor, (Dangerous things these brackets) Dublin


In response to Harry, ‘CFC, Saaf Landan’, I would agree that Chelsea don’t often boo your former players with other teams. However, on several occasions recently (after Mourinho’s sacking) your supporters very vocally booed your own players: Costa, Ivanovic and ironically Cesc Fabregas, who is the very player that you criticise Arsenal fans for booing. So booing your ex-players now playing for a rival is not acceptable, but booing your own players for a commonly-perceived notion that they had a hand in getting the manager fired is acceptable…?
James, THFC, Singapore


“I know we get a lot of stick, some deserved, but Chelsea fans do not get on players’ backs, criticise the team, or boo former players.”

Sorry mate but that’s some Grade A cobblers right there. In fact, this has been a particularly booey season although you may have struggled to hear it over all those rustling pillow cases.

Oh and on the matter of booing former players, I was at the Southampton game and we even booed Ryan Bertrand. You know, that kid who helped us win the Champions League who we then cut loose.

I get it, we all like feeling smug you get when we stick one on the Arse but let’s not carried away eh.
Simon CFC


Re Harry, CFC, Saaf Landan. “Chelsea fans do not get on players’ backs, criticise the team, or boo former players”.

What? Chelsea fans? Booing their own players? calling Fabregas a Judas? In December? Doesn’t ring a bell?
SC, Belfast


On song
I think Peter G hit the nail on the head yesterday with regards to his point about Alex Song being too high up the pitch when Man City scored their equaliser.

Last season Song was one of the main reasons why our form was so good at the start. He broke up play well and allowed our more attacking players to go and win us games. But then around Xmas and New year he decided that he was the next Yaya Toure and bombed forward at every opportunity leaving our defence exposed.

Fast forward to this season when Song has featured he hasnt been massively impressive (mainly due to fitness I imagine after his injury) But the one thing that is always apparent is that Song as great a ball winner and defensive midfielder really excels. But when he starts getting ideas above his station he can easily be a hinderance rather than a help.

I spoke to my Arsenal supporting friend when we got him on loan last year and asked him what he thought. He warned me that when he stays defensive he will make a massive difference to our team. But when he gets a rush of blood to the head he will cost you goals. I hate admitting any Gooner is right but he pretty much has hit the nail on the head with Song.

Sadly he isnt a young player any more so its unlikely that this side of him will be hammered out of his game, but hopefully he has some sort of discipline switch in those crazy specs of his which Noble can give a little flick when running past him.
Ross Jenkins


End days
Just read that Ramires is being sold for £25million.

In other news, the gates of hell have opened and the rapture has begun.
Stu (brackets) AFC


Austin is the egg on Pardew’s face
I laughed my head off after seeing Austin score for Southampton to get the win and saw Palace losing yet again.

I thought Pardew was a bit under-valued as a manager and his early Palace start just proved it. But after hearing his response when Redknapp had suggested Palace could do with a forward like Austin, who was a pretty good price, I realized he is a bit of a t*sser. And it is that attitude that stops him from becoming better and is the reason those in the know don’t rate him.

Yes, he might get a decent half a season in now and again, but he hasn’t actually won anything or done anything of real value as a manager.

Palace are comfortably mid table at the moment but any more losses and they will slip down the table fast. What could they have done with a player of Austin’s calibre these last few weeks?
Paul McDevitt


Burnley thoughts
Just thought I’d send in a quick mail and rave about Burnley after we smashed Derby 4-1 last night.

* We didn’t play well amazingly well in the first half but we defended solidly and kept it tight. Second half was a different game though and we fully deserved to win the game. Admittedly we were hugely helped by Derby’s 2 centre backs – one own goal and 2 penalties…

* We’ve scored 17 goals in our last 5 league games and only conceded 2.

* This recent form has coincided with Ward coming in at left back and Mee moving over to centre back. It makes the talk of buying centre back Tarkowski seems pointless, especially when considering Dyche doesn’t favour squad rotation at all.

* Talk of buying Judge for the left wing seems a good idea though. Benching Boydinho (our most ever expensive signing at one stage) would be a huge upgrade if Judge can replicate his form from Brentford. Comparing Boyd to Arfield on the other wing is almost a joke.

* Sidwell has just signed for Brighton – I wish we’d signed him. Although Barton is a class above everyone around him (he always seems to have an extra second on the ball) Sidwell would’ve done a better job in the middle of the park than Jones – especially if we go up to the Prem again. He’d probably have broken our wage structure though.

* Booing Jason Shackell who left us for Derby at the start of the season for a final payday was fun but considering he played over 100 games for us it seems a bit harsh. Especially as we made a profit out of him, he’s 32 and he scored an equalizer against Rovers in 2014.

* £6million seems a bargain for top goalscorer in the league Andre Gray. Replacing Danny Ings seemed an impossible task but Dyche has chosen well.

* This win against Derby could stand us in really good stead for the next few games – Sheff Wed, Hull and Reading are all in and around the play off picture. Not only does the win improve our league standing but it also sends out a strong message.

*We’re third and 5 points clear in the play off positions. Derby have slipped to fifth and will no doubt start to feel the pressure – will they implode like the past 2 seasons?
Nick P. Burnley FC (Unsurprisingly).


(In)Glory be to the King
Kung fu kicking a fan before lobbing Sunderland keepers with more panache than Henry in a car commercial, surely King Eric deserved a mention on the top 10.
Kev Belfast

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