It is a bad time to be a Manchester United fan. It is even worse to be a fan of Louis van Gaal. If you are a Man United fan, you are staring at another season of cheering whichever team ends up as Arsenal’s or Man City’s opponent in next season’s Champions League. That means you could be a fan of anything or anyone from BATE Borisov to Ludogorets Razgrad to FC Barcelona.
If you are a fan of Louis van Gaal, you could be looking for a new stock of excuses to defend the man with the clipbored. One thing for sure—your supplies will get depleted really quickly. One other thing is certain—Louis has a plan to keep you busy on Thursday nights; so tell the girlfriend (or wife) movie dates won’t be possible on these days.
It has, of course, been a bad time to be a Manchester United fan for the long three years since Sir Alex Ferguson opted to do the kind of thing African leaders generally frown upon—quit while at the top. It is only that Fergie then went on to do the kind of thing many African leaders are wont to do—handpick a clueless successor. Man United are still paying the price to this day. They could for as many as another three years. Here’s why: the Old Trafford higher-ups are certainly not going to be impressed with a fifth place finish posted by a £300m squad in a league won by a team that cost slightly less than Anthony Martial. The easy way out might seem like firing the man entrusted with managing (mostly mismanaging) all the talent that all that money bought.
That does not solve the problem, however. If Louis van Gaal leaves, there are three possibilities. One is that Ryan Giggs gets the manager’s job—mostly on account of the fact that he played lots of games for the club rather than any demonstrable coaching talent. The only outcome would be anarchy (following another inevitably disastrous season where the team teases with its excellent foreplay around the top four places without ever managing penetration into the Champions League).
The second possibility would be that Jose Mourinho gets the manager’s job, and proceeds to disband a fairly decent collection of promising youngsters, wins one championship (or not) but in no time not one of the OT faithful cares for a better league position or trophies because the team is, as expected, not easy on the eye and the manager is, as expected, not easy on the ear. Fans eventually get restless. The manager gets even more restless. The only outcome is anarchy (and an ignominious exit).
The third possibility is a manager other than Giggs or Mourinho gets the job. And turns out like David Moyes, or Louis van Gaal. After all, the best coaching talent is already committed. So United can stick with van Gaal, and do no better, or remove van Gaal and still do no better. It is a bad time to be a Manchester United fan.