The wheels are coming off at Old Trafford, and Manchester United stalwart and former chief executive David Gill looks to have had enough.
You can’t exactly blame him.
The Red Devils’ sixth loss of the season, against Southampton on Saturday, sees them five points shy of the Champions League places; and with in-form Tottenham the side above them, a top-four finish now looks very unlikely. Especially when United are continuing to bore their fans to breaking point.
But it’s not just the fans who appear to be at breaking point. It looks like the directors are running out of patience too.
Whilst Gill is not longer the chief executive at United, he is still on the board of directors, and on Sunday he made the decision to express his disappointment on BBC radio.
Speaking to 5 Live, Gill said, “We all hoped results would be better,” and added that Louis van Gaal’s side are playing unattractive football, unbefitting of the attacking traditions of Manchester United.
Gill refused to be drawn on the future of van Gaal, but he also refused to come out in support of the manager, indicating that the Dutchman’s future will be discussed by the club’s owners and executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward.
Which, if you want my two cents, is tantamount to an admission that van Gaal will be gone in the summer. At the latest.
The merits of letting the manager go now versus May will no doubt be widely debated, but there is a genuine question mark over how long United can allow these poor performances to continue.
Losing is one thing, but losing in such unspectacular and unattractive fashion will not be going down well with the United hierarchy.
In his interview, Gill pointed out that Sir Alex Ferguson went through a barren spell in charge of the club, too, failing to win the division between 2003 and 2007, and although that is true, he omitted a few key details.
Firstly, Ferguson had more than proved himself with a number of trophy wins. Secondly, whilst they were failing to win as often as they would have liked, they were always entertaining.
And that’s where van Gaal is falling short. Gill rightly points out that it can get boring when the same team wins every year, and it seems unlikely to me that United fans are expecting their side to win every single game, every single time.
But what they do want is some entertainment. Win, lose or draw, a football team is indebted to their fans, because without their financial backing, nothing is possible. And when you’re charged with entertaining 70,000 people who’ve paid substantial amounts of money to be entertained by you, the reality is that whatever the result, you’ve got to show them a good time.
Right now, van Gaal’s side aren’t doing that, and the United board will be acutely aware that the longer this situation continues, the more likely the fans are to become disenfranchised and disenchanted. For United, this is unthinkable, and if this situation continues for too much longer, it seems almost certain that they will need to take action.
Louis van Gaal is the only man who has the ability to change the current situation. But what remains to be seen is whether he has the capacity to actually see it through.
Only time will tell.