The 10th July. Argentina vs Holland the World-cup semi-final, the romantics called it Lionel Messi’s destiny, if you asked Louis van Gaal what it was to him, he probably would’ve said it’s all part of his plan. After 120 tedious minutes, of goalless action, the game was decided on penalties. An apprehensive Louis van Gaal watched on, no point walking you through it, you know how the tale ended.
So. Louis van Gaal parted way with his country, as he took, lets be honest an average Holland side to the World Cup semi-final & secured a third-place finish. A good achievement in most peoples eyes, but this is Louis. Around about two weeks later, van Gaal arrived in Manchester, the home of the biggest football club on the planet. His next assignment? Take United back to the top. Manchester United’s pre-season was probably the most acknowledged pre-season i’ve ever seen, we beat the European Champions, beat Roma and Inter oh and Ashley Young basically turned into Cristiano Ronaldo v.2. The transition seemed effortless. Emphasis on seemed.
“I have said from the beginning – I have not shouted – ‘We shall be the champion.’ We need time to build up a new team, and that cannot be in one day. It’s a process, and the process is starting now.”
Like that. The Premier League season was in motion, the anti-climax was quite hilarious, we went from top of the world to down the shitter within a few weeks. A loss to Swansea and a impecunious draw to Sunderland, left United fans in dismay. The plea was signings! Luke Shaw, Marcos Rojo and Ander Herrera had already been signed but the next two, well let’s just say, they were a gift from cloud-nine. If there was one club on the planet, that could lose 4-0 to MK Dons and sign Ángel Di María for a record-breaking £60m on the same day, we would be that club. Yup, that’s right Ángel-f*****g-Di-María then to top it off we bought this Colombian dude who goes by the name of Radamel Falcao García Zárate. van Gaal’s team was starting to take shape.
The philosophy. Louis van Gaal’s forte, he lives by that word, United are a work in progress. Week by week we are gradually improving, even with our player falling like dominos, we remain in a satisfying position. His philosophy isn’t a formation, it’s a way of living, every day each player must play for the philosophy, a regime. A different way of watching and playing football. On the pitch, that philosophy is being engraved into each player, fast, direct, fluid football. If you want to see Louis van Gaal’s Manchester United play football, like really play, watch the Hull game back. Complete performance.
Kidology; the art or practice of bluffing or deception. Louis bluffed around seventy-five-thousand people yesterday, when he set-up in the warm-ups with a 3-5-2 hoping to lure in Steve Bruce and his team into setting up in a way which favoured him. Good old Brucey took the bait, in reality, van Gaal’s plan all along was setting up with a ‘natural’ 4-1-2-1-2 transitioning into a 4-2-3-1 or even a 4-3-3 at times, it was a piece of tactical genius. It really was. It was Louis van Gaal epitomised in one performance, every little detail was covered, some will say well it’s just Hull! Yes it’s Hull, but a David Moyes Man United side would’ve struggled to break them down, but not LvG’s. From the first minute to the last, we took authority we played the game as a United side should play at Old Trafford. Illustrious.
We’ve seen in glimpses this season van Gaal’s philosophy in action, the Leicester game, against Chelsea in the first half in which we were excellent but on both occasions we’ve thrown away points when we could’ve easily picked up three. Against Hull it was different, we didn’t hit a bump, usually we would be like a road full of speed bumps. Blow the opposition off the pitch but miss chances, and then in the second half we’d hit the bump and we’d be stuck. Our play in the final third became too predictable, teams shut us out far too easily, those bits of combination play were missing but yesterday was completely different. Direct, sinuous, to the point.
Individuals. Ah, Individuals the match-winners, your Messi’s, your Ronaldo’s etc. As for United, we’ve had our fair few. Van Persie in 11/12, Berbatov & Hernandez in 10/11, Rooney in 09/10. We’ve always had THAT player who took us through games, and up the mountain, this season it’s different we’re glittered with top-quality footballers. Di María, Mata, Rooney, Falcao, van Persie, Herrera, Blind, De Gea. Quality isn’t a problem.
De Gea: Our palisade, he’s just at times un-beatable, from that skinny little kid who joined from Atlético Madrid all those years ago to this eccentric goalkeeper he is today. A unique player.
Marcos Rojo: Personally, my favourite red, just pure eagerness and passion to play. He’s clumsy at times but always leaves everything on the pitch, he’s starting to prove his worth and become a real fan favourite. A ball playing centre-half but a good old-fashioned Argentine at the same-time. Takes no nonsense.
Luke Shaw: That ‘Overweight’ Englishman, had a difficult time at the start but is proving why he’s one of England’s brightest prospects, quick, strong and smart upstairs. Tactically sophisticated for a young man, he’ll be the best left-back around in a few years. No doubt in my eyes.
Daley Blind: Intelligent would be the best way to describe him, plays the game simple and subtle but with effectiveness and urgency. Versatile a great buy for just £14m. Pocket change in todays market.
Ander Herrera: A no-sweat sort of player, he never seems to be under-pressure, calm and collective. Two touch football, effortless in confined spaces, keeps everything going.
Michael Carrick: The great Webby from FullTimeDevils described Carrick perfectly yesterday, “He’s like a good old bottle of red wine, it could be locked up in a dusty cupboard for a few weeks and you could take it out and it’d still taste mint.” do i need to say more?
Wayne Rooney: My love/hate relationship with Rooney will always remain, a superlative footballer on his day, and this season he’s been nothing short of terrific. A good mix of enthusiasm, calmness and keeping himself focused. The leader.
Radamel Falcao: ‘A storm is coming’ – That is how i describe Radamel, he is in a process, the calm must come before the storm. Drip, drop.
I would go through all the players, they all deserve credit bar the odd few, Louis has installed belief in them. Ashley Young rejuvenated, Fellaini a changed man, the so-called ‘Dead-wood’ have rose from the grave and are performing. It’s a beautiful sight.
Time to wrap this up. van Gaal is a winner, i’m going to try and not feed you with clichés, the process, the philosophy are all words which mean something. He doesn’t just say them for the sake of it, arrogance is something this football club needs, someone to come in and take the mantle of this football club, Mr Louis van Gaal is that man. Just wait on it.
The mission continues.