Since winning the Premier League title in 2012-2013 under head coach Alex Ferguson, Manchester United has been a shell of the championship club that it was.
Ferguson’s handpicked successor, David Moyes, inherited a squad that was already showing frailties. Moyes endured a difficult season and received the bulk of the blame for United’s shortcomings from the fans, journalists and even the players themselves. In the end, Man U finished the 2013-2014 campaign in 7th place and missed out on European football for the first time in 19 seasons.
Moyes was fired and replaced this summer by former Dutch national team coach Louis Van Gaal. Van Gaal is known for having a fiery temper and has an impressive resume that includes stops at Ajax, Barcelona and Bayern Munich. Van Gaal was talked up so much by the British press that one would have thought he had the Midas touch to fix the problems at United. Unfortunately, it’s becoming apparent that Van Gaal will need more than a magic wand to cure what ails the club.
Van Gaal made some impressive additions to the squad during the recent transfer window including record signing Angel Di Maria and Radamel Falcao. In fact, the Dutchman spent a total of £150 million, which is more than any English club ever spent before in a transfer window.
It was evident last season that United’s defensive unit needed an upgrade. With the departure of Patrice Evra, Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic this summer, it was very clear that Manchester United’s defense was a major concern. Despite this, it seems that Van Gaal was more intent on bringing in high priced superstars that create and score goals than worrying about keeping the other half of the team’s score sheet. It’s still early, but it’s very obvious that the club has major problems in its back line.
With David Moyes being vilified last season and Van Gaal being welcomed as a savior, it’s interesting to compare the record of both coaches at the same point in their first season in charge.
After the first five fixtures last season with Moyes, United had two wins, one draw and two losses for a total of 7 points. The opponents included Chelsea, Manchester City, Liverpool, Swansea and Crystal Palace. United were in eighth place and five points behind the league leaders.
As for Van Gaal, he has been at the helm for one win, two draws and two losses for a total of 5 points. The teams faced Swansea, Sunderland, Burnley, QPR and Leicester City. United are currently 12th in the table and eight points behind league leaders Chelsea. Add to the fact that under Van Gaal, Man U was eliminated from the League Cup after an embarrassing defeat to League One’s MK Dons 4-0.
The truth is that Moyes had a better record than Van Gaal at this same juncture in his tenure. In fact, his first five fixtures included matches against last season’s top three teams in the league while Van Gaal’s first five fixtures included games versus the three newly promoted clubs.
Time will tell if Van Gaal is able to fix Manchester United’s current problems, but not all the blame can be placed on David Moyes anymore.