I’m absolutely positive that I’m not the only one who has been more than a little underwhelmed by Manchester United this season. Last year we wrote extensively about the fact that David Moyes simply wasn’t a good enough manager to be at the helm at Old Trafford, and that fact was confirmed when he was given short shrift after just 10 months.
After a short recruitment process, Louis van Gaal was the man tasked with returning United to their former glory, but it hasn’t really worked out as expected. After spending a small fortune on players, the team from the red half of Manchester started the season pretty badly, and although results have improved considerably (as well as their position on the table), the fact remains that they still haven’t been anything approaching ‘good’ this season.
If you listen to van Gaal himself, though, then I’m talking nonsense. Because despite their underwhelming performances, the line coming out of Old Trafford has very much been that the Red Devils are on their way back to where they should be. On Saturday, this imagined ascent hit a pretty massive speed bump.
After the mess under Moyes it’s fairly understandable that most at Manchester United are not that bothered about performances, as long the results come in. The trouble is that on the basis of their defeat at Swansea, it seems that those poor performances were symptomatic of a bigger problem.
Van Gaal may have made things better, but unless he can guide his side into the Champions League spots, then any ‘achievement’ is rather meaningless. The Dutchman was brought in with a sole goal – to regain the Champions League status of the club. While his side was winning and playing badly, that looked eminently possible. But a result like this proves that everything is still very much up in the air.
With Arsenal, Southampton, Liverpool and Tottenham chasing Champions League football too, United cannot afford these sorts of losses. This defeat has taken them out of third and into real danger of the Europa League places of fifth and sixth. With games against Spurs, Liverpool, City and Chelsea to come in the next couple of months, van Gaal’s side could potentially be no better off than they were under Moyes.
It is not yet a crisis at Old Trafford, but should the Red Devils lose another couple, van Gaal will be in serious trouble.