Belfast Telegraph

Louis Van Gaal out of his depth... and the FA Cup

By Steven Beacom

Louis van Gaal's Manchester United misery goes on. In a season in which they have been booed by their own fans for negative football and humiliated in the Capital One Cup by a League One outfit, the Red Devils are now out of the FA Cup and the Dutchman is increasingly looking out of his depth.

Van Gaal has deservedly built up a wonderful reputation in the game down the years, but it's taking a real battering this season.

The thing is he only has himself to blame - the latest blow coming last night with Arsenal beating United 2-1 at Old Trafford in the quarter-finals to maintain their hopes of retaining the Cup.

Nine months on from stepping through the curtains at the Theatre of Dreams, after guiding Holland to an impressive third place finish at the World Cup, and having spent £150m on new recruits, United are a mess.

The fans ask where the team is going and what worries them most is that van Gaal does not appear to have any answers.

Tactically and in terms of team selection he has been found wanting in England. You could say the same about his big money summer recruits.

He has had some dismal moments since taking over as manager, but the loss to the Gunners and all that went with it has to go down as the worst. Here's the depressing reading for United fans:

* Barring a collapse a la the England cricket team from Chelsea in the Premier League, van Gaal has no chance of winning a trophy in his first season at United like he did at Barcelona and Bayern Munich.

* Danny Welbeck, the young striker who van Gaal did not think was good enough to be part of his plans, came back to haunt him by taking advantage of a shocking Antonio Valencia error to score the winning goal for Arsenal and knock United out of the Cup.

* Angel Di Maria, bought by van Gaal for a mind blowing £60m was red carded after first diving and then crazily grabbing the referee's shirt to pick up two yellow cards.

* Adnan Januzaj was also booked for diving as United lost their discipline.

* And now van Gaal's men enter a set of difficult Premier League fixtures with the heat turned up to scorching as they endeavour to qualify for next season's Champions League.

Look at this for a run of games: Spurs and Liverpool, both in fine form and challenging for the top four, resurgent Aston Villa and then title rivals Manchester City and Chelsea! Good luck with that little lot Louis.

Somehow he has to galvanise his squad because if United do not make it into Europe's biggest club competition, given the cash he has spent, van Gaal's first season will be considered an almighty failure.

Perhaps David Moyes wasn't so bad after all!

Belfast Telegraph


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