Friday 23 February 2018

11 reasons why Louis van Gaal has turned the tide and made United winners

Louis van Gaal has transformed Manchester United by doing things his way
Louis van Gaal has transformed Manchester United by doing things his way

Mark Ogden

A year on from David Moyes' dismissal, Manchester United have bounced back under his successor, Louis van Gaal. But just what has the Dutchman has done that Moyes failed to do?

1) Made United win

The key for any manager is to deliver victories and make his team a winning one and, after a torturous start to the season which was Manchester United's worst for a quarter of a century, Van Gaal has restored the club's winning mentality.

In the league, Van Gaal has mustered only two more victories - from one game fewer - than David Moyes achieved before his sacking, but the Dutchman has endured just six league defeats to Moyes' 11 and the difference is spelt out in the table.

2) Ruthlessly ditched the flops

When he inherited a squad of champions from Alex Ferguson, Moyes resisted a swift clear-out and gave every player a chance to prove his worth, but his lack of a ruthless streak ultimately cost him dear, with many players failing to repay his faith.

Van Gaal did not make the same mistake, offloading 14 players, including Danny Welbeck, Javier Hernandez and Shinji Kagawa. By swinging the axe, Van Gaal asserted his authority.

3) Took charge of summer buys

United lavished more than £150m on signings last summer, recruiting six players, including £59.7m British record signing Angel di Maria.

Moyes had similar funds at his disposal, but a failure to get tough with executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward contributed to a disastrous summer transfer window, during which only Marouane Fellaini arrived.

4) Imposed A playing style

From day one of Van Gaal's reign, he imposed his 'philosophy' on his players and it has not been without its problems and hitches. There have been too many systems for his players to master, but in recent weeks the penny has dropped and United now look a team with a distinct identity.

Moyes was hamstrung by failing players and injuries to key men, which led to a cautious, defensive style that alienated players and fans alike.

5) Made himself the boss

Van Gaal wasted no time in imposing his authority last summer, with outspoken complaints about the USA tour schedule and the commercial demands being placed on his players.

Moyes had similar concerns about the gruelling nature of the pre-season tour he inherited from Ferguson in 2013, but was too deferential to his bosses and allowed the commercial tail to wag the dog.

Back at Old Trafford, club staff also noted how Moyes failed to project himself as 'the boss' in the manner that Van Gaal has done.

6) Ignored the critics

Van Gaal's stubbornness can be a weakness and a strength and, this season, it has proved to be both, particularly when the Dutchman persisted with the flawed 3-5-2 system early on.

However, while Moyes once admitted that he opted against substituting Robin van Persie for fear of a negative reaction, Van Gaal could not care less what the critics think. When fans chanted "4-4-2", Van Gaal ignored them and stuck to his guns.

7) Made Fellaini a success

Moyes signed Fellaini from Everton because of the Belgian midfielder's unique qualities, his destructive power and goal threat, yet he deployed him out of position and saw the player become a symbol of his failed reign.

However, under Van Gaal, Fellaini has become a key figure after being restored him to his favoured position between midfield and attack.

8) Resurrected Ashley Young

Ashley Young's United career was heading one way under Moyes. The England winger was losing form and confidence under his sceptical manager. Young did not see eye to eye with the Scot and a summer departure seemed inevitable.

Van Gaal has turned the wide man into a wing-back and United's best performances this season have come with him playing a prominent role.

9) Dropped under-performers

Too many United players kept their place under Moyes because of their reputation, including Van Persie and Patrice Evra, and Welbeck became frustrated at being the regular fall-guy up front.

In contrast, van Gaal has left the likes of Di Maria, Radamel Falcao and Juan Mata out of his team despite their star status. As a result, the message has been that complacency will not be tolerated and no position is guaranteed.

10) Defeated their big rivals

Results against their big rivals ultimately hastened Moyes' exit, with only Arsenal defeated out of last season's top six. There were heavy home defeats against Manchester City and Liverpool, and they lost twice against Everton and Tottenham.

Under Van Gaal, the tide has turned, with United beating City, Liverpool (twice) and Arsenal this season. Of the top six, only Chelsea have avoided defeat against United so far.

11) Became man about town

Van Gaal's visits to Chinese restaurant Wing's have become a running joke in the city, but they highlight how he has embraced life in Manchester.

The supporters enjoy his approachability, as do staff at the club who speak highly of his even-handed treatment.

Moyes was a more introverted figure and failed to generate the affection that Van Gaal has secured within the club and among fans.

(© Daily Telegraph, London)

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