Louis van Gaal has led Manchester United back into the top four of the Premier League after a noticeable absence under David Moyes.
The Dutchman’s start to managerial life in England was not as smooth as the former Netherlands manager would have hoped for. They didn’t pick up a win until mid-September when United overhauled Queens Park Rangers at Old Trafford by four goals to nil. The lowest point for van Gaal has to be either the 4-0 League Cup thrashing United suffered at the hands of League One side MK Dons or the 5-3 defeat to bottom club Leicester City back in September.
Despite the manager experiencing a slightly rocky beginning, with many stating that his start was no better than Moyes’, he has now put a run of results together and United look like a force once again. His appeal for the media to judge him after three months appears to be an accurate one as United are slowly starting to turn a corner. Their 3-0 victory against Liverpool on Sunday was their sixth Premier League victory in a row. They have scored 13 goals on that run and have only let in three since their 1-0 win over Crystal Palace on the 8th November.
One of the most fundamental factors behind United’s success is that they are starting to look more like a team again. This is mainly due to the fact that the injury list is slowly starting to shorten. Earlier in the season, the defence had to be constantly reshuffled and the likes of Paddy McNair and Tyler Blackett were thrown into the starting line-up despite having hardly any experience at Premier League level. The younger players showed signs of inexperience but did impress overall, showing LvG that his willingness to have faith in the younger players at the club was a shrewd move.
Under Van Gaal’s leadership, David De Gea has really announced himself as one of the best goalkeepers in European football at the moment. His performance against Liverpool was absolutely outstanding and a wide range of world class saves across the season so far has rescued points for United. A talk of a new deal worth around £35million may sound like a lot of money but for a goalkeeper of that class, it’s more than worth it. The goalkeeper must also be praised for how he has inspired confidence in the defence in front of him. The influence a good stopper makes on the back four can separate the best from the rest and De Gea is certainly proving that this season.
As well as the defensive side to United’s game improving, things are also starting to click in an attacking sense. Robin van Persie is now in amongst the goals. He looked dejected at the start of the season, probably due to the hysteria that surrounded Radamel Falcao’s arrival at Old Trafford. Although the Dutch striker took a while to get going, he has now scored four goals in four Premier League games. The likes of Wayne Rooney and Juan Mata have also been impressive in recent weeks and the towering Marouane Fellaini has shown United fans that he has something to offer in the middle of the park. The fans have also allowed the team to relax and perform well.
There is optimism buzzing around Old Trafford these days compared to the nervous vacuum that surrounded the pitch under David Moyes. If United can end 2014 with three wins against Aston Villa, Newcastle United and Tottenham Hotspur, van Gaal’s team will be bursting with confidence going into the New Year. With the possibility of further reinforcements in January, the outlook at Old Trafford is suddenly becoming a lot brighter – and that’s down to the Dutchman’s stern, yet effective managerial approach.