Rio Ferdinand: Introduction of exciting youngsters will save Van Gaal's Man Utd legacy
Rio Ferdinand has been scathing in his criticism of Louis Van Gaal’s Manchester United this season but, in light of recent events, the Old Trafford legend is now optimistic that better times are ahead.
Since the beginning of what has proved an often deflating and staid campaign for Manchester United, the dismissal of Louis Van Gaal has seemed nothing but inevitable.
Speculation rose considerably following Jose Mourinho’s second departure from the helm at Chelsea and is yet to dissipate. Now, the apparently moribund PSG manager and former United centre back, Laurent Blanc, is said to be the man to replace the Dutch coach.
However, regardless of United’s results, or soporific brand of football, support for Van Gaal from the United board and Chief Executive Ed Woodward has yet to waver.
The same could not be said for fans, media and former players, all of whom have routinely eviscerated the former Ajax boss, who has proved increasingly prickly since Christmas.
That said the Red Devils have won five of their last six Premier League games and, on Saturday, progressed to the FA Cup final at the expense of Everton, and will meet Crystal Palace in the decider next month.
Furthermore, Van Gaal has received near universal praise for introducing youngsters such as Marcus Rashford, Jesse Lingard and Timothy Fosu Mensah.
Tempering this progress is the fact that they are five points behind fourth place Arsenal, albeit with a game in hand. Even if Van Gaal clinched the FA Cup, failure to secure Champions League football might yet cost him his job.
According Ferdinand, who captained United to Champions League glory in 2008, there remains huge reservations with regards to United’s offensive structure but, were Van Gaal to finish his second season at the helm with silverware and a place at Europe’s top table, few could begrudge him seeing out his full three year term.
“Speaking to people at Manchester United in and around the ground and supporters around the country, they are not playing the type of football they are accustomed to seeing at Manchester United,” Ferdinand told Talk Sport.
“They want to see football that is respectful of their history of the club. It has been a lot of sideways, sideways football.
“If he wins the FA Cup and United finish in the Champions League (qualification) he could sit there and say that is progression,” he said.
Ferdinand was pleasantly surprised by the ambition he witnessed from United on Saturday, and hopes such fluency remains prominent.
Indeed, the integration of Wayne Rooney in a deeper midfield role, has allowed the well balanced attacking unit of Lingard, Rashford, Anthony Martial and Juan Mata to remain intact.
“But I watched the game at the weekend (Everton) and if that is a sign of things to come, then Louis van Gaal has got a great argument to put forward.”
While Van Gaal has happily taken credit for selecting the precocious players within the ranks, in truth it was act of necessity, given United’s injury crisis in the second half of the season.
To be fair, blooding in youth has been a hallmark of the Dutchman’s career and, if this new breed of Red Devils continue to blossom, Ferdinand believes that Van Gaal’s tenure may yet be remembered in a favourable light.
“This season has been a bit doom and gloom for Manchester United with the way they have played but Louis van Gaal’s legacy if he is going to have one when he leaves is the introduction of all these young boys, with Rashford leading the charge
“It has been great for football and it will be nice for managers around the country to take heed of that.
“Bringing in young players as he has and getting to the FA Cup final - albeit they are not doing too well in the league - that is a good part of his time and story at Manchester United.”