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    How Louis Van Gaal has Taken Away Manchester United's Identity

    One thing comes to mind whenever Manchester United are mentioned; attack. Their legacy is built on exciting and unpredictable football, as well as players who were willing to take risks to win games and excite fans. Manchester United under Louis Van Gaal are a far cry from the era of Sir Alex Ferguson or Sir Matt Busby, where attacking football was bred into each player. The Dutch manager wants to dominate possession and starve the opponent of the ball and normally this is an effective game plan when your team is leading, but today's loss to Swansea is another piece of evidence to show that slow possession football does not work in the Premier League.



    United fans used to watch their team blow opponents away with pacy wingers and forwards who would play off the shoulder of the last defender. Such pace and movement made goals come easily to forwards who have graced Old Trafford down the years, even Wayne Rooney, who now looks a shadow of a player who is about to break the England and Manchester United scoring records.

    Once again Rooney toiled at Swansea. He was presented with great chances in each half, chances which a sharper Rooney would have no doubt put away. However the sluggish nature of LVG's "process" seems to have taken the sharpness away from most of United's attacking players. Rooney hesitated after turning Ashley Williams and got robbed of possession instead of getting his shot off right away. Too much of their attack has a sense of overthought about it, nothing seems natural anymore.

    Van Gaal again pointed to the stats in his post match interview claiming that United dominated the game and Swansea only won because of a 5 minute spell. This is a very wrong assessment. United may have had more possession but like many of the games during LVG's time in charge, they simply did nothing with it. Many times Mata and Depay would get to the edge of the box and pass backwards as there was nobody in the box to aim for. Many times Schneiderlin or Schweinsteiger would pass back to one of the back 4 as Swansea pressed them high up the pitch. The lack of forward thinking and movement is quite staggering.

    Another problem with Van Gaal becoming very evident is his poor man management skills. We have already seen David De Gea dropped from the squad altogether as LVG deems he is not mentally ready to play. A fair assessment? Maybe. However if he is not ready to play now what makes Van Gaal think he will be ready to play once the window closes and De Gea remains? Will De Gea just forget the treatment he's had and go back into the team? That's quite unlikely. The goalkeeping situation raised its ugly head today as Sergio Romero had a day to forget. The Argentine looked nervous from the off, misplacing many kicks in the first half and both of Swansea's goals will definitely fall into the 'must do better' category for Romero, especially the second from Gomis.

    Other players suffering from his management are the unlucky Hernandez, who couldn't get a run off the bench even when United were 2-1 down so this must surely mean he's on his way out by the end of the deadline. Marouane Fellaini is also being limited to a long ball target man. The big Belgian has shown in his time at Everton and with Belgium that he can be effective all over the park and with the ball at his feet. Instead Van Gaal throws him on when a goal is needed hoping someone can get on the end of his knockdowns and in doing this, he is making Fellaini an unfair scapegoat. £230million spent for League 2 tactics? Unacceptable. 

    The problem seems to be that LVG allows no freedom in the team. Credit where credit is due, the defence looks much better than it has done, even under Ferguson's last few seasons. However the attacking players look joyless. Not one single attacking player has prospered under Van Gaal which is worrying, even Wayne Rooney and Adnan Januzaj played some of their best football in David Moyes ill-fated reign which speaks volumes about Van Gaal's style of play.

    Fans have already started to turn against LVG, with a huge social media backlash against him after the final whistle of the Swansea game. Many are doubting he is the right man to lead United, he achieved the bare minimum in his first season in charge by getting United back in the Champions League. I do stress though, that was bare minimum. He did this during a season where Liverpool lost the man that almost carried them to the title in Luis Suarez, and he also had Spurs under new management with Pochettino so he definitely had an easier route to the top 4 than David Moyes did. Top 4 is now no longer the target, not after the money he has spent.

    Van Gaal now has a short time to save himself. Much will hinge on the next few days, with many believing that Manchester United need 2, if not 3 big signings. A striker is a must, especially if Hernandez goes. Van Gaal will be seen as delusional if he thinks he can challenge without one. A centreback and goalkeeping replacement for De Gea (if he goes) are also a necessity. 

    Next up for United after the International break is Liverpool, the fans definitely will not be kind if the same kind of performances and result lead to a loss against their biggest rivals.


    By Darren Beck (@DarrenBeck13)
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