Manchester United slump threatens future of boss Louis van Gaal
A year ago, Louis van Gaal was Christmas spirit incarnate. His Manchester United side had won six and drawn one of their seven matches to be in the Premier League places for the Uefa Champions League. On 26 December 2015, the Dutchman faces a crunch test at Stoke City.
United are without a win in their last six games. They have been eliminated from this season’s Champions League and have dropped to fifth in the table.
The style of the team’s football has also raised eyebrows. Gone are the fast flowing patterns of yesteryear. Van Gaal prefers patience and possession. It has not brought the points and the Old Trafford faithful are becoming increasingly restless. The vultures in the media are swirling. The recently dismissed Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho has been touted as a successor.
Stoke City’s Britannia Stadium is not the place to play if a job is on the line. The team is led by the former Manchester United forward Mark Hughes.
In the prelude to the game, he spoke of a “United way” which demanded results with entertainment.
Van Gaal has responded to the pressure with a bold move. He left skipper Wayne Rooney on the bench, preferring Ander Herrera in midfield.
“It is a tactical decision,” Van Gaal told Sky Sports just before the game. “I don’t think it is a drastic decision. It is to do with my game plan.”
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