When Louis van Gaal was announced as the new manager of Manchester United there was widespread celebrations from fans. Gone was the overawed and tentative Moyes and here was the volatile, ferocious megalomaniac otherwise known as LVG. Fans were delighted and to be fair, still are.
However, the excitement and optimism that followed his appointment has been replaced lately, for some, by impatience and questions over what his recruitment policy is. Prior to his appointment it was being mooted that chief executive Ed Woodward had been working hard on deals for Toni Kroos of Bayern Munich and Luke Shaw of Southampton.
While those deals looked possible, if not imminent, since the Dutchman came on board he’s turned down the opportunity to sign the German international Kroos, while Shaw’s transfer appears to have been delayed by a combination of the World Cup and Southampton’s managerial situation.
Most of us knew that things would take time under van Gaal at United, especially to begin with. This isn’t an unemployed manager we picked up, it’s one who’s in the middle of the almighty and incredibly important task of leading his country into the World Cup.
Now, it can be questioned whether in this important period for the club whether it was correct to appoint a man so clearly and understandably distracted by the task he currently has at hand, but he’s the man we have, like it or not. There’s also the fact that it’s a World Cup summer. Traditionally, the transfer market moves at a particularly slow pace during major tournaments, and this year is no different. Knowing all of this makes certain fans complaints hard to understand. Along with this there’s the simple fact that van Gaal is a perfectionist, both on and off the pitch. He’ll be meticulously planning both his tactical and transfer plans for United, possibly even as I write.
The grumbles from fans have been down to the relatively quick transfer movement from rivals Chelsea and Liverpool this summer so far. Liverpool have signed Rickie Lambert from Southampton and Emre Can from Bayer Leverkusen while Chelsea allegedly have deals for Spaniards Diego Costa and Cesc Fabregas in place. Fair enough, both clubs have moved quickly, and fair play to them. But both clubs are extremely settled in their managerial set-ups. Both performed well last season and are merely adding to the quality they already have. For United, this summer is different. This summer is about changing things, possibly drastically, and getting back to winning ways.
Louis Van Gaal could have given the club a list of players to sign that he’d quickly jotted down but that’s not his way. He’s the type of manager who no doubt wants to wait ’til he’s arrived, seen the ground, seen the facilities and most importantly, seen the players. He’ll no doubt have players in mind, but in a summer of such importance we need to allow van Gaal the time to get to grips with the task at hand. People have spoken about the difficulty with which United will attract players without Champions League football, and rightly so.
It’s going to be difficult. But in van Gaal we have a manager matched only by Pep Guardiola and Jose Mourinho in the stakes of cult of personality. In van Gaal we have a manager that some players don’t like, but the ones that do love him, they’d kill for him, die for him, they might even go a year without Champions League football for him.
Of course we’d all love to see a host of signings arriving at the club as soon as possible, it’s not realistic. But personally I’d much rather wait, allow van Gaal to scope things out and make methodical, practical transfer decisions that will actually benefit the club, not just appease the impatient fans. He’s not the kind of manager to be swayed by supporter or media pressure.
He does things his own way, whether people like it or not. For that we should be grateful.