When Lous van Gaal steps into the technical area in August, the lazy, unenergetic players that featured for David Moyes will be long gone and will have been replaced by industrious, determined footballers with a Dutchman’s boot print on their backsides.
Lacking a sense of direction and fatigued by the post-Ferguson era, Manchester United require a firm grip and a swift kick to reconcile them before the new season. Louis van Gaal comes to England with a list of frightful stories that would have R.L. Stine quivering under his duvet; and it’s exactly what the Red Devils need right now.
Halloween may not begin until 2 months after the season starts but the United players will be in for a fright as soon as Van Gaal steps into Carrington. A ruthless pragmatist who wouldn’t look out of place in a Romero flick, Van Gaal brings with him the fear needed to instil some life into the despondent United side of last season. No longer will the players have the comfort of calling their manager by his first name or be given free reign of the dressing room. However, discipline at Manchester United seems a thing of the past since Sir Alex Ferguson left with players causing a rift between themselves and their previous manager and his backroom staff.
Van Gaal shares many of the same holistic views that made Sir Alex Ferguson such a success; no player is ever bigger than the club and the manager’s power is absolute. Many have tried to test the ideals of van Gaal in the past and many have failed. Rivaldo, who at the time was World Player of the Year was released from Barcelona for becoming, by van Gaal’s own words, “arrogant”. Van Gaal will look to impose his rule from the very start but may find himself confronted with one of Manchester United’s recurring dramas.
Last season, David Moyes and the club bowed down to Wayne Rooney’s demands and offered him a new contract, and in no uncertain terms the new £300,000 a week contract showed the power Rooney had over his former manager. Either eager to make up for what he had said about Rooney in his book or keen to rekindle his friendship with his former Everton star, Moyes lost control of the dressing room and at the heart of it, puppet strings and all was Wayne Rooney.
What the stats say
Manchester Untied may have had a poor season but Rooney’s stats were pretty impressive; 17 goals and 10 assists is an excellent return from the striker and it was more of a case that the rest of the side didn’t support him. If Van Gaal can improve Rooney’s output next season the sky really will be the limit for the English striker. Whether the striker will enjoy a stricter environment behind the scenes remains to be seen.
Wayne Rooney has proved himself time and time again that he is an excellent player, but one of the best ever? The jury’s still out on that one. Under Van Gaal, Rooney will have to reel his neck in or face the chopping block as, unlike Moyes, his new manager certainly won’t stand for his attitude. The best thing Rooney could do next season is go out onto that pitch and play as though every game is his last because you can be sure Van Gaal is already well aware of the sort of problems he may encounter with him.
Time To Adapt
Rooney may have to adapt unlike he has never done before in his playing career and it is almost certain he will start his transition to a midfielder this season under Van Gaal. The Dutch manager is averse to using a second striker and prefers his number 10s to be more involved in the midfield than further up the field. If Rooney is to relish under the new manager, a change in his position could be the best thing for him. Van Gaal will be ruthless despite, what will be the best for Manchester United and for both parties will be if these two can get on amicably, or at least at like they do.