In light of recent performances the manager has seemingly saved his job once again. The famous ‘Teflon Don’ – John Gotti has nothing on the Dutchman.
The narrative now gaining momentum among the mainstream media is that suddenly Van Gaal is a conjurer of miracles when it comes to his daring selection of so many academy products.
I call bullshit on this, and can’t believe more aren’t joining me.
This is in no way a criticism of the young men that LVG has blooded in the last few weeks, I want to be crystal clear on that. They have played fearlessly and have brought a much-needed energy and enthusiasm to the side.
The future for the likes of Rashford, Varela and Fosu-Mensah looks bright, indeed.
But let’s be honest. Louis got lucky. Plain and simple.
First, he has overseen the whittling down of the senior playing squad by selling many of the fringe players.Which is fine, and many of them needed to go. But it was the manager’s choice to gamble on a thin squad – which meant that when injury struck [and strike it has] he has been left with no choice but to play the kids.
Next, for every Jesse Lingard, there is an Adnan Januzaj. What I mean is that not all the young players we’ve tried to bring through have been successful. Some of this is not on the boss, of course. But some of it is. Just ask Nick Powell or James Wilson…
And now the big one.
My feeling is that the success we’ve enjoyed with the kids in the side of late shows Van Gaal’s failing as a coach and man-manager. This three-win stretch has finally seen the side play some attractive football, complete with effort and desire. We’ve also reverted to the 4-1-4-1 formation that saw a similar spell last season.
Of late, the few senior players in the side have shown more focus – no doubt they are trying to set a good example and help get the kids through these matches. The young lads have all responded like champions, showing a confidence that Warren Joyce built up in them, not Van Gaal.
So while the academy grads have played well beyond expectations, they have also highlighted for me how many of the senior pros have been stealing a paycheque from the club for some time now. And what’s sad is that when some of these senior players are fit again they will walk right back into the first team and displace a young player who has been performing well.
So when that happens, and if results suffer as a result – will LVG have the courage to bench a senior pro and play an academy player?
Because only then will this ‘Youth Genius’ narrative come to fruition. Until then, he is simply a manager who is playing the kids because everyone else is injured.
Nothing more, nothing less.