Louis van Gaal has been at Manchester United long enough for us to judge his progress so far and compare his qualities against the man he replaced.
After seven games last season, the Scotsman had the Red Devils sitting in 9th place in the league with 10 points, scoring 10 goals and conceding nine. The Dutchman on the other hand has achieved fourth place in the league with 11 points, scoring 13 goals and conceding 10. Fourteen points was the benchmark at this point last season. What this shows is the league isn’t as competitive this season as it was at this stage last season, meaning van Gaal is having a slightly easier time. But this is the Premier League, one of the toughest leagues in the world, and every point has to be earned so this still puts van Gaal ahead, 1-0.
Before the signing of Spaniard Juan Mata from Chelsea for £39m in January 2014, Moyes had only had one recognisable signing in Belgian Marouane Fellaini from Everton for £27.5m. Mata did make an impact when he arrived but Fellaini did not, and was told by van Gaal in the summer that he was no longer needed.
Van Gaal on the other hand has notably signed Argentine duo Angel Di Maria and Marcos Rojo, Englishman Luke Shaw, Dutchman Daley Blind, Spaniard Ander Herrera, and Colombian Radamel Falcao on loan. All of them except Shaw have already had some sort of impact on the squad and results. Bringing these players to United cost van Gaal over £150m, and if you want to include the inevitable permanent deal of Falcao, even more than that. The squad van Gaal is trying to create is guaranteed to improve upon last season’s finish.
A huge advantage you could have going into a job like managing United is experience. Moyes was hand-picked by United’s greatest ever manager Sir Alex Ferguson. Just one Champions League play-off and one fourth-placed finish was the highlight of his C.V. Van Gaal, though, is a completely different story, filled with many impressive achievements. He has won eight league titles in four different countries and a Champions League with Ajax back in 1995. The Dutchman knows what it takes to finish on the top of the pile and how to motivate a side.
A stat that Moyes does succeed in compared to van Gaal at this point of the season is defence. So far during his time at United, van Gaal’s side has been switching between three at the back and four at the back for different games. They have conceded 14 goals across all competitions, including an embarrassing 4-0 loss to League One side MK Dons. His side takes on Chelsea and Manchester City during their next three games, so his defence definitely needs to improve. Moyes however, his United side had only conceded 12 goals at this point of the season in all competitions including the Champions League. His side was also still in all competitions at this point as well, but we all know how that turned out.
It therefore seems van Gaal clearly has had the better start and is the better manager thanks to his past experience and the players which he has brought to United. He just needs time for his ideology to set into the team as he clearly has a proven track record which is better than what Moyes has.
The hope would be that it has set in enough already, especially the defence part, so that his side can limit the damage they take from Chelsea and Manchester City during their next three games.