Could This Be the End of Van Gaal’s Time at United?

Louis van Gaal loses again

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This season hasn’t exactly gone to plan for two Premier League giants. A José Mourinho-less Chelsea find themselves all the way down at 15th in the table, and just two points out of the relegation zone. Manchester United, on the other hand, hasn’t won a game since November 21st, and is in the midst of a four-game losing streak for the first time in more than 50 years. With the pressure rising with each disappointing result, will one of these sides be able to gain some much-needed momentum Monday at Old Trafford?

The man tasked with saving Chelsea’s season is Guus Hiddink. This is the second time the Dutch manager has taken temporary control over the Blues, with his first stint at Stamford Bridge coming all the way back in 2009. Chelsea was in a slightly different position when Hiddink took over that season, sitting all the way up in fourth position. During his brief stint at the club, Hiddink led the Blues to a nearly perfect Premier League run, losing just once, and pushed them all the way up to second in the table while also claiming that year’s FA Cup. His first game in charge this time around, the Dutchman was only able to salvage a 2-2 draw against Watford. While it’s clear that the Chelsea dressing room needs some major work, I think that Hiddink has the skill to manage the big personalities. This match against a beleaguered Manchester United squad gives him the perfect chance to boost the squad’s morale.

A major selection issue for Hiddink will be who to play at striker. His best goal scorer, Diego Costa, is suspended for Monday’s match after picking up his fifth yellow card of the season against Watford. This inconvenient absence will likely push Loic Remy into the starting role, or former United man Radamel Falcao. In either case, neither of these forwards has been very dependable this season as they’ve scored just one goal apiece. I do think that Remy could cause some problems to United’s defense with his explosive pace, but in the end, it will have to be the midfielders that provide the goals. Look for players like Eden Hazard and Willian to be the catalyst for the Chelsea attack at Old Trafford.

According to the media, this is going to be Louis Van Gaal’s last game in charge of Manchester United, regardless of the result. With that being said, will the Dutchman finally stray away from his rigid defensive tactics and let United go back to a more free-flowing playing style. Right now, the Red Devils don’t appear to have any confidence on the pitch and their poor display against Stoke City on Boxing Day didn’t help the situation at all. The players have made it clear that they want to fix the situation, but do the club have the right man in charge to lead this revival?

At the start of the season, the factor that made up for United’s toothless attack was their suffocating defense. The Red Devils kept seven clean sheets going into November with David De Gea and Chris Smalling leading the charge. As of late, however the United backline have been porous. In all four of their previous matches, the opposition has been able to find the back of the net at least twice, with Wolfsburg thrashing Van Gaal’s club for three goals. Even against a weaker Chelsea front line, fans won’t have a lot of confidence about keeping a clean sheet. The man to watch has to be De Gea between the pipes. For long spurts this season, the Spaniard was arguably the best keeper in the league, if not all of Europe. The Red Devils will need him to replicate this form if they hope to walk away with points.

As much as I hate to say it, I can’t see my beloved United winning Monday. There’s no confidence in the squad, and half the players look like they don’t even want to be out there. It’s time for the end of the LvG era at Old Trafford. Final Score: Man United 0-1 Chelsea

 

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About the author: Collin Carpio

 

I am currently a senior at the University of Missouri in the Journalism School. I have been an avid follower of Manchester United since 2006 and of course I support the Stars and Stripes. Due to my St. Louis high school allegiances, I am a big supporter of Brad Davis and Sporting KC in MLS.

 

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