Louis van Gaal has outlandishly declared that his three-year plan at Manchester United is on track, and his style of football is working at Old Trafford.
United were outplayed and outfought at Anfield on Thursday night and they’ll take a difficult two-goal deficit back to Old Trafford for the UEFA Europa League second leg next week.
There was a lack of fight within the players and there seemed to be a lack of shape and direction from all sides of the team. Yet van Gaal insists his style is working.
“I think it is working,” said Van Gaal, a day after that sadly unsurprising defeat at Anfield. A majority of the United fanbase have been wanting to see van Gaal sacked since a terrible month of December.
His arrogance with the media was something that allowed fans to love him when he arrived in July 2014, but now it has become a hindrance, a frustration.
“It is not giving the best results,” admitted van Gaal about his style. He also admitted that “it is not good enough when you think you have to be a champion [of the Premier League], of win the Europa League or the FA Cup.”
Within the next seven days, van Gaal’s United side could be out of both the FA Cup, as they face West Ham United in Sunday’s quarter-final, and the Europa League on Thursday.
Then, it appears he would have little defence for himself, but now he can say “there are many of my colleagues who are not in three competitions anymore.”
Van Gaal’s style has both hindered United’s players and allowed them to flourish. Many of the squad have developed in football intelligence and tactical knowledge.
Yet freedom and instinct have been restricted for most players and some have been frozen out like Victor Valdes or Robin van Persie last season.
When the Dutchman arrived at United, he insisted his ‘philosophy’ would be implemented within three months. After that time period, he quickly altered it to three years, understanding the mountainous task he faced with United.
On occasion, he has spoken of his aims over the three years, including a Premier League title win in the second year. That will not happen.
The season could turn around although every time that looks a possibility, a defeat to a smaller side like West Bromwich Albion takes United crashing back down to earth.
“We are not playing well enough to be champions,” accepted van Gaal. “But it is still possible to win the Europa League of the FA Cup” and “we have a lot still to fight for.”
Van Gaal went on to say that it will be a “difficult situation for everyone” if United go out of either the FA Cup or Europa League.
But for now, United “still have the chance to win something” and the club has “to keep believing”.