Guillem Balague Exclusive: Manchester United plan to keep Van Gaal next season
In his latest exclusive blog, Guillem Balague believes that Jose Mourinho’s attempts to engineer a move to Old Trafford will fall flat, and Manchester United fans will have to put up with Louis van Gaal for another season.
The Chosen One? I doubt it. Jose Mourinho’s long-held dream of managing Manchester United is vanishing very fast, as at this point in time Manchester United want to continue with the reign of Louis van Gaal for the coming season. King Louis is dead? Far from it.
This will no doubt prove disappointing and even infuriating for many MU fans who, attracted by the charismatic personality of the larger-than-life Mourinho, saw him as the man to alter the style while challenging for the title and, like a latter day messiah, lead them to a new, golden age. It’s not to be, I am led to believe. And, in all honesty, could it ever have been? Certainly Sir Alex Ferguson had his reservations, as did Bobby Charlton in the past. But it is not just them who doubt.
Photo: “The sacked One” Jose Mourinho, is not welcome at Old Trafford.
And this despite extraordinary pressure from the Mourinho camp who, throughout the season, have mounted a ferocious media campaign to undermine van Gaal and promote the Mourinho cause, recently even stating off the record that the Mourinho/Man United marriage was a “done deal”. I never believed it and that was why I always reported what they said (not once I said myself that it was a done deal, I only reported what I was being told by Mou’s camp, but of course people read what they wanted from it) and I always had to include the fact that Van Gaal has thought for a while that he was going to be in charge one more season and why I mentioned too the club kept insisting no deal for Mourinho had been agreed, no matter how many stories were published about it.
Tellingly, Sir Alex continued to publicly and privately support van Gaal. He also, by the way, praised Mauricio Pochettino, but not once he backed the possibility of the Portuguese taking over United. Did his disapproval, or, at least, lack of support influence the Board? The message arriving from Old Trafford is that he has, as we say in Spanish, no voice or vote about decisions at the club. But perhaps the board merely concurred with a wisdom and prudence that served Sir Alex and “his” team so well, for so long.
Van Gaal is considered by many to be part of the “Old Guard”, a has-been, but he is without doubt one of the most influential coaches of our era. He took off where Johan Cruyff and Rinus Michels left the evolution of football, and he moved forward the “positional game”. Whilst Pep Guardiola has developed this strategy to the next level, making the team much more dynamic, Van Gaal has continued at United to focus on the detail of the positional strategy, whereby every player has his role and position on the field. Viewed by many fans as a plodding and slow style, his strategy is beginning to pay off and, will, I believe, begin to pay dividends in the coming season.
We’ve become used to the star players who hog the limelight, but van Gaal is aiming for something more and longer lasting – a well disciplined, structured team that consistently out performs. In his realm there is no room for prima donnas, there’s just “the team”, that forms and reforms according to the game at hand. It takes time to build such an ethos. It takes careful nurture and patience. It demands the support and trust of every player, and it takes a strong man at the helm, with one aim in mind, to build a winning team to make it happen. This is van Gaal’s time.
He is already preparing for next season and is eying Everton’s Romelu Lukaku. Will they sell? Who knows? One thing, I have been told, is certain. Van Gaal, as it stands in this volatile world of football, will continue as manager, fully supported by the MU Board, who do not take such decisions lightly. He has their confidence, let’s hope the fans can share some of their insight.
And what of Mourinho? Having learnt for months that United was not a possibility even though his own people kept stating the deal was done to put pressure to Van Gaal and hoping the Manchester United board changed their mind, he has stated his intention to work next season. The pressure against Van Gaal from Mourinho’s camp will continue I am sure, but at Old Trafford they don’t think it will work and will change the mind of those that are against his appointment.
Will they be that strong minded if Manchester United fails to reach the top four and get knocked out of the FA Cup? We will see, but what a test to the club and its vision that would be.
By Guillem Balague | Yahoo! Sport UK & Ireland
Manchester United will make my day and make my next season, as well, if the Flying Dutchman, Louis Van Gaal, the apostle of possession football and football philosophy, is retained for the next football season as the Manager of Manchester United and boss, in the Barclays Premier League – at Old Trafford.
Up Man U!