There seem to be a consensus about Louis van Gaal eventually becoming the manager at Manchester United as they attempt to recover from the David Moyes disaster. But while Van Gaal obviously has an impressive résumé, there are more than a few doubts about his ability to actually succeed at a club that doesn’t offer the best of starting points.
Van Gaal has won championships with Ajax, Barcelona, Bayern Munich and AZ. He has taken teams to the Champions League final and won. He is a specialist in rebuilding teams quickly, and no one will argue about his tactical knowledge or his eye for talent. But with all the good and potential that comes from hiring him, there is plenty of bad.
Van Gaal doesn’t stay in one place too long, and not because he feels like he has to taste everything possible to him. He has a tendency to leave things without the feeling of mutual admiration. Players might hate him in the end, and so will the front office. He doesn’t find it too difficult to think about the day after the World Cup ends and he’ll leave the Dutch post as soon as possible.
Opportunism is something a wanted trait in a manager. It means he isn’t thinking about building and slowly developing; instead he wants to win now and move on to the next thing. Jose Mourinho style, despite all the phrases and “wisdoms” Mouriho loves to spread in the air. He’s about winning now, and often burning bridges when he leaves with at least one or two people he was involved with.
Manchester United went for the long term approach with Moyes but didn’t see it through. No one saw such a terrible season coming – finishing without a place in Europe, while the mightiest brand in football became something of a laughing stock. Moyes would have been fired earlier on any other club. It might not have meant that sacking him is OK, but the downward spiral was too hard to ignore.
Van Gaal has better starting conditions than Moyes: A bigger budget, and no one expecting him to be the ‘chosen one’ or a savior. But the patience is no longer part of the Manchester United repertoire. It’s about winning, and now. Which is completely fine with Van Gaal. Things aren’t any different in Munich or Barcelona, or the Dutch national team for that matter.
But as it seems he is by quite a wide margin the leading candidate, there seems to be some difference between the kind of hype built around him and what he has actually achieved over the last 14 years, which should make some people a bit wary of his arrival.