On point: is David Moyes vindicated by Van Gaal’s struggles?
David Moyes may yet benefit from his turbulent tenure as Manchester United boss, with rumours linking him to a stint with San Siro giants Inter Milan. However, the surly Scot is still currently synonymous with the Red Devils’ descent into mid-table football.
After the triumph that greeted Louis van Gaal’s last-gasp draw with Chelsea, Coral writers consider whether Moyes, who had United one point better off this time last term, really received a raw deal with the Red Devils.
Moyes often cut an isolated and morose figure on the hallowed Old Trafford touchline, with each defeat or draw seemingly draining the fight from him a little more.
Stories have since emerged about rifts with players over pre-match chips, which must make even the most ardent anti-Moyes detractor feel for the Scot, who was plucked from his comfort zone at Everton, but hindsight is a fickle thing.
Thrown into the pressure cooker environment of one of the world’s biggest brands, after United had lost their longest serving legendary manager, the 51-year-old earned a Premier League points haul of 14 from his first nine games.
Despite following on from what was considered a failure, Van Gaal has so far amassed just 13 points in as many matches, and a tricky away test at Manchester City next time out could see him fall further behind in this contest.
Such unfavourable comparisons will hardly phase the defiant Dutchman, but eighth place is a poor return for an outlay of over £150m, however many red-tinted spectacles you view it through.
Have the raft of ‘Galactico’ signings blinded fans and pundits to Van Gaal’s teething problems? As it stands, United have lost as many games as they have won under the Dutchman, despite facing supposedly ‘easier’ opponents. Yet the gloss has not been taken off his arrival.
Moyes, meanwhile, endured a baptism of fire, with early games against Chelsea, Liverpool and City, amid an atmosphere of scepticism.
The statistics may look damning and, on the surface at least, validate Moyes’ claims of unfairness. It is clearly a problem of perception however, and, unfortunately for Moyes, that is key in the media-driven world of the Premier League.
Where Van Gaal succeeds is in his control of the narrative. At the beginning of the season, the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich coach warned fans to expect a slow start to his reign, asking to be judged after three months.
Those months have now passed, in a flurry of shock results and defensive woes. Van Gaal’s response, however, was to simply and bluntly dismiss his earlier words as “stupid” and move swiftly on.
Far from pulling the wool over people’s eyes, it is this bluster, confidence and devil-may-care attitude which sees him fit into United’s philosophy and earn the respect of his charges.
The fans are patient and can overlook the 13 Premier Legaue goals conceded so far, in exchange for the return of the attacking intent that had seemed to be so stifled under Moyes last season, even if it compromises the results sometimes.
Van Gaal has an indisputable style, and even though the Red Devils recorded a disappointing fourth draw of the season against Chelsea, there was a clear improvement in fluidity and identity, yet more components which were lacking under his predecessor.
As long as the Dutchman delivers a trophy or Champions League football to Old Trafford, he will not be concerned about winning a statistics war with Moyes, a battle which even then should only be judged at the end of the season.