Having taken over the managerial job of Manchester United two years ago after the dismissal of former Everton boss, David Moyes, so much was expected from the master tactician, Louis Van Gaal, who was regarded to restore the pride of the Red Devils in the Barclays Premier League.
The Dutch gaffer, wasted no time to adjust himself with the ever busy calendar of the league as he qualified Manchester United to the UEFA Champions League in his first season, a result which made so much headlines in the English tabloids.
United, and Woodward in particular, have placed great faith in Van Gaal’s ability to turn the team around after the demise which followed the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson, another to watch Saturday’s painful defeat, in 2013.
They have spent heavily to around the tune of £250 million on players since Van Gaal’s appointment but have a poor return to show for it as the team slips further and further away from the standards set as Ferguson delivered the last of the club’s 20 league titles.
Van Gaal, the former national coach for Holland, who has won league titles with clubs in the Dutch, Spanish and German leagues, points out that players have also been sold, which is not often taken into account by his critics. But he must have had a hand in that too and it’s hard to imagine United, whatever was going on behind the scenes, would be worse off with Ángel di María, Robin van Persie, Danny Welbeck, Javier Hernández and even Tom Cleverley and Darren Fletcher on their squad.
Van Gaal’s record so far this season is worse than that of David Moyes, who was sacked after less than 12 months in charge in April 2014 once Champions League qualification proved beyond him and United’s power-brokers doubted his ability to improve the team.
Now five points outside the top four, Van Gaal looks to be equally struggling to achieve what would appear to be United’s minimum target, unless he can hang on and sneak into the Champions League via the back door thanks to success in the Europa League.
The fans’ jury has long been out on Van Gaal’s impact at United since the Dutchman took over at the start of last season and after Charlie Austin’s late headed winning goal on his debut for Southampton. And the verdict moved noticeably further towards the negative as the players, and Van Gaal in particular, were loudly booed off.
Louis van Gaal is considering walking away from Manchester United at the end of the season.
So if he does go, who could the club look to as a replacement for the Dutchman?
After having been sacked as Chelsea coach due to a poor run of results, Jose Mourinho has been touted to take over the job of Manchester United at the end of the season considering the fact that, he has the experience and understands the Premier League games in England.
Sections of the Old Trafford crowd were heard calling to the former Chelsea manager during the recent loss to Norwich City. The Manchester giants would not have to pay compensation as Mourinho is a free agent but the Portuguese coach would command a hefty wage packet.
He is known to covet the United job and has already signaled his intention to remain in England and says he has no plans to take a sabbatical.
Manchester City boss, Manuel Pelligrini may be considered for the Manchester United job since he’ll be leaving his position at the end of the season after Bayern Munich coach, Pep Guardiola was confirmed as the new manager.
Pellegrini’s record still put him in a good position having won the Premier League, Capital One Cup and FA Cup with the Citizens during his reign as coach.
Simeone won the La Liga title with Atleti in 2014, breaking Real Madrid and Barcelona’s duopoly in Spain. He reached the Champions League final in the same season, with only an injury-time Sergio Ramos header denying his team a famous win.
Atletico didn’t win anything last season, but Simeone kept them relevant, guiding them to third in La Liga and a respectable quarter-final berth in the Champions League. However, with no disrespect to Atletico, it’s reasonable to assume he has aspirations of managing one of Europe’s elite clubs.
Simeone has a no-nonsense style and would take no prisoners at Old Trafford – and surely enough water has passed under the bridge since his antics got former Red Devils man David Beckham sent off at the 1998 World Cup.
“Giggsy” is United’s record appearance holder and the most decorated footballer ever to grace the Old Trafford pitch as a Red Devil.
He is currently Van Gaal’s number two and the Dutchman has said he expects the Welshman to succeed him in the dugout, with Sir Alex Ferguson also lending his support.
Giggs took over as caretaker manager after the departure of David Moyes, overseeing the final four games of the 2013-14 Premier League season.
He won two, drew one and lost one of his matches in charge, putting a strong emphasis on giving youth a chance.
He enlisted the help of former team-mates Phil Neville, Paul Scholes and Nicky Butt during that time and would be likely to include at least some of those names in his backroom staff should he get the nod.
Van Gaal’s Unwanted Record
Lowest points total
The 37 points United have amassed after 23 games is their worst in the Premier League era. With Moyes’ United had 40 points by that stage.
Swansea beat United home and away for the first time in a single season in 2014-15.
Eight games without a win
From that stale draw at home to PSV Eindhoven to the Boxing Day surrender to Stoke, United did not win one of their eight games in the Premier League and Champions League.
United had not endured such a lengthy winless run since December 1989 – Alex Ferguson’s infamous winter of discontent.
First Boxing Day defeat in 13 years
Last month’s defeat at Stoke marked United’s first Boxing Day defeat since Middlesbrough beat them 3-1 at the Riverside Stadium in 2002. The Stoke loss also marked the first Boxing Day fixture United had not scored in since 1989.
United’s blunt performance at Stoke was their first Premier League game without scoring against the Potters, promoted to the top flight in 2008.
First home defeat to Norwich in 26 years
Another 1989 parallel, which re-emphasizes just how bad it has become for United under Van Gaal.
Four consecutive defeats
The 2-0 reverse at Stoke marked United’s fourth successive loss, which last happened in a single season back in October and November 1961.
Back then, United were slowly recovering from the trauma of the 1958 Munich air disaster and finished 15th in the 22-team Division One table that season.
Six wins in three months
Or six wins in their last 19. Whichever way you look at it, it is abject.
United have failed to score in 10 of their 34 games so far this season.