The biggest question doing the circles now is, if that work would continue under Van Gaal or the strict Dutch tactician will leave his job, at last. The last weekend loss at home to Southampton must have felt like a dagger at the heart of his reign and there were several rumours that he would call an end to his troubled times. But, he didn’t and the saga continues!
Van Gaal’s side have recorded just two victories in the English Premier League in two months – a form that is worthy only of relegation. It is not just the lack of wins but also the drop in standard of their attacking play that angered most of the supporters. The fact that there are more groans and derided cries at the Theatre of Dreams indicate how much the side has come down in the eyes of its supporters.
If fans have their way, Van Gaal would have been gone already by now. But, in this era of commercialization and money interests, decisions are rarely taken in tow with the fans’ interests. Though there is growing concern on the ineptitude of this side on the pitch, the cost of showing Van Gaal the door is stopping the executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward from taking the drastic step.
As reports circulate that Woodward has turned down an offer from Van Gaal to resign, question marks still remain as to the true cost of cutting ties with the Dutchman. Regardless of whether he is sacked or he walks away, substantial associative costs will have to be considered as United look towards their next step.
An interesting side note, or rather the main story for many, is the fact that United are sliding away from the Champions League qualification places. For a club of the stature of United, a year away from European action is a huge risk – as was found out by Moyes. Financially too, it is a huge burden for Woodward because of stringent stipulations relating to their European involvement.
If Van Gaal is paid off his severance package along with his backroom staff and the new manager presides a run of good victories, United can still qualify for Champions League and end up swooping the riches on offer. But, there is a big if. Managerial changes so deep into a season are made only to write-off the current season or fight off relegation. United’s form is nothing short of relegation but it is not United way to write-off a season so early. But then, this hasn’t been a season worthy enough for United way!
Clubs always are forced to take decisions that align both their commercial and football future. Commercial interests may take a hit but are not in for a huge risk at United – at least not the same level of risk that their football is at. Popular opinion should sack Van Gaal right away but commercial thinking (which sadly is popular at United right now) indicates that he is safe till the end of this season.