Louis van Gaal is an outstanding manager but one thing he isn’t is a miracle worker—and so it’s proved during his time in the Old Trafford hot seat so far.
The Dutchman inherited a Manchester United squad low on morale, belief and—let’s face it—class, but £150 million later, it’s looking a different story.
United spent wildly in the summer transfer window, bringing in the kind of quality that fans have become accustomed to seeing don the famous red shirt, and it seems that’s finally put the optimistic cap on Van Gaal.
The United boss said he’d have been in for a cushy life had he accepted the manager’s position at Tottenham, but he was quick to insist he’s happy with his decision to become a Red Devil, per David Anderson of the Daily Mirror:
No, I don’t regret taking this job. Yes, it is a massive job I have taken on at Manchester United. I realise that. And the situation is not worse than I thought—I knew what I would find on my plate. I could have opted for an easier job. If I had gone to Tottenham, the job would not have been as enormous as here at United.
Spurs and Manchester United have started the 2014-15 Premier League campaign in contrasting fashion. While Tottenham under Mauricio Pochettino have looked irresistible at times, United have looked anything but.
Two points from a possible nine is enough for some to rule United out of the title race this season, but Van Gaal has managed to break a club record during his time at the helm—a rather unwanted one, though, as Gary Lineker revealed:
Gary Lineker @GaryLineker
Van Gaal creates a record on his debut. The first MUFC manager to lose at home on the opening day of a Premier League season. #stat2014-8-16 13:39:25
While David Moyes came into his miserable time as United manager as “The Chosen One,” Van Gaal has simply been deemed the right one but a weak squad hasn’t helped him on his quest to bring the club back to the top of the English game.
That’s something that the Daily Telegraph’s James Corrigan commented upon, saying United’s problem is pretty easy to identify:
James Corrigan @jcorrigangolf
Two words sum up why Louis Van Gaal is not the genius he was portrayed to be - Ashley Young2014-8-30 10:53:54
However, now that the likes of Angel Di Maria, Daley Blind and Radamel Falcao are on the United payroll—putting a sizeable dent in it, too—the solution is just around the corner.
Even Van Gaal himself was surprised to have lured so many world-class stars to Old Trafford over the last few months, saying to De Telegraaf that other clubs may not have allowed him to spend so much, reported via Dutch journalist Elko Born:
Elko Born @Elko_B
Louis van Gaal: 'At Bayern, they would have stopped me. But do you know what United's people do? They just keep buying!' (De Telegraaf)2014-9-3 08:38:45
Elko Born @Elko_B
Louis van Gaal: 'They [United's people] support me! They have trust in me. You can feel that. As a person too.' (De Telegraaf)2014-9-3 08:40:00
Would Tottenham be able to attract such high-calibre signings? Unlikely, and as Van Gaal says, there’s a big difference in the stature of the two clubs, per Anderson:
I could have easily gone to Spurs. But I chose the biggest challenge of all the jobs in football. And I really wanted to join the number one club in the country, not Tottenham. Financially, Tottenham was kind of as attractive as Man United. But, in my eyes, Man United is still the number one club in England, Tottenham really is not.
Two very different clubs, indeed, but with one shared ambition this season—get back into the Champions League.
Based on early-season form and personnel, you’d have to lean toward Spurs getting the job done over United but summer spending has finally made it an exciting time to be a United fan and, more importantly, an exciting time to be the United manager.