Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal gave a very heart felt speech at the awards ceremony on Tuesday evening and he covered many points in his comprehensive address. He started by saying how amazed he was at the support of the fans, despite a really slow start.
“When you start a season with 10 matches and 13 points and you are a manager of that club, the most world famous club and you play at home and I am also a human being and I have the experience with other clubs, when you have that result you are not very beloved by your fans and I came in the stadium of Old Trafford, 10 matches, 13 points and I came in and I saw by myself how I have to behave myself and then the public are applauding, standing up and I thought how is it possible that the fans are supporting me?”
“Thanks to that we could continue – not only me, my staff but especially the players because it is not so easy when you are playing in a great club that you have 10 matches,13 points and a new manager who demands in another way than all the other managers.”
We have always respected the fact that the Manchester United manager didn’t moan about injuries too much this season. Where so many coaches would blame their tools for big defeats, Van Gaal rarely used resources, or lack of, as an excuse. He just got on with the job in hand. But he did make reference to the difficulties he had in this respect.
“It’s very difficult and with all the injuries of the first part of the season and then we continue with a spirit in the team, unbelievable, and that’s the credit of this team, the spirit. We come from I thought in my memory 13th place to third position in the league.”
“After so bad start. And then we had to believe the players but also the staff that we could end second. I remember the meeting with the players with the captain Wayne Rooney who’s saying ‘we go for the second position in the league and I said yes. We go for it!”
In a very interesting insight into the value he puts in Antonio Valencia, he mentioned the Ecuadorian in reference to the run which effectively won Manchester United a top four finish.
“You remember the game against Arsenal. We were the better team and the best player on the pitch in my opinion makes an error and we lose that game and I forget the meeting. And then you have to remember that we win six games in a row.”
And LvG clearly still feels frustrated by the game at Stamford Bridge which Manchester United lost but dominated like few teams have at Chelsea over the last decade.
“And then we go to Chelsea. You remember away game against Chelsea? No, no, no, you have to listen. I ask you to listen. Because at that time we have 50 points and then Rooney sat in the dressing room we go for the second place, he said that. Then six games in a row we win and then we go to Chelsea. Who are the better team then?! It’s easy to say that now in this room. I can believe it but it was the truth but we lost. We lost that game but can you imagine when you have 80% ball possession you have 10 big possibilities and they have three, they have three and they win the game.”
“When we win that game count the numbers of points we could have won because after that we lost three games in a row. But when you see that we have 13 points and Chelsea have 83 points and we could have been champions.”
“What I want to say to you, we are very close!”
Six pointers aside, we feel that the big problem for Manchester United this season has been underperforming against the smaller sides. But a coach of Van Gaal’s stature should learn how to dispatch the smaller clubs with more efficiency next season.
“But as a manager I know that if is not counting, if is not counting, we have to produce more. And believe me the players but also the staff but also the organisation like Manchester United shall do their utmost best and why? Because we have the best fans of the world. Thank you for that and I will see you next season again.”
At this point Louis left the stage before interrupting the next speaker to say:
“I want to say something. Pay attention to the manager!”
Ryan Giggs said to me, and he is always right but in this case particularly right. I have said to you you are the best fans in the world but tonight I was a little bit disappointed and I shall say why.
I have seen a lady who plays the saxophone fantastically.” Give her big applause!
Overall this Manchester United manager has done much to endear himself to the fans this year. You do get the sense that the club is back on the up now that it has a manager with commensurate charisma and nous as the great man himself. But this summer is perhaps even more crucial than last. If he gets it right in the market over the summer months then we should see and altogether more dangerous beast take to the field next season.
Manchester United fans: is Louis taking the club in the right direction?