I wrote last week of Manchester United’s rather dodgy form over the last 10 games or so, and since that article was published, Louis van Gaal’s side have now exited the Champions League at the group stage and lost to Bournemouth, dropping to fourth on the table.
Things aren’t good.
See the thing with van Gaal is that if he was delivering results, it would be far easier to excuse the insipid, uninspiring and turgid football that his side is currently serving up.
Last season, it wasn’t pretty by any stretch of the imagination, and it was touch and go for a while, but the reality is that the Dutchman did what he needed to do – get the team back into the Champions League.
This season, things are different.
Having spent a whole load of money again last summer, van Gaal will be expected to deliver more than just a top-four finish this year.
He might not be required to win the League, but he’ll certainly be required to be in the mix.
Right now, that’s looking increasingly unlikely.
And pretty football or no pretty football, it’s just not an acceptable situation for a club that just two and a half years ago were – by some distance – the best team in English football.
The style of football is almost irrelevant. You see, if United were topping the table with this horrible brand of possession football, the fans wouldn’t care. It’s now got to the point where the most important thing is that United start winning, and it’s my view that van Gaal has been tasked with delivering results, not style.
Trouble is, right now he’s not delivering either.
If we arrive in May and United finish fifth or even fourth, United and van Gaal must part ways. The Dutchman is currently contracted until 2017, but the fact of the matter is that if things do not improve, and quickly, this will have been a third year where the Red Devils are miles away from the top table.
In fact, I’ll be bolder. Van Gaal should go now. He doesn’t seem to know how to get the best out of this group of players, he’s had enough time, and things are getting worse rather than better.
Against Bournemouth, they looked anything but a team that won the League less than three years ago and has had hundreds of millions of pounds spent on it since, managed by a man with decades of high-level experience.
They looked like a side without a clue, with no real idea of how to dominate a game, and this isn’t the sort of thing that the United board will tolerate for too long. They may be more patient than some clubs, but right now, van Gaal’s side is playing at a similar level to the Moyes regime. And we all know how that ended.