Louis van Gaal has come under much criticism for his style of football at Old Trafford this season, and former Dutch international Ronald de Boer has told talkSPORT that he is struggling to fix it.
Despite trudging through the season with little style, United have lost just two of their last 20 games, and a top-four finish is certainly within their grasp. However, the football has been an eyesore, and van Gaal has been derided for his sterile system of play, which has negated the wealth of attacking talent signed at the start of the season.
The situation came to the fore following the Red Devils' late 1-1 draw with West Ham, after which Sam Allardyce claimed that United have now become a long-ball side. Whilst a broad statement, there is a marked shift towards balls pumped into the box this season by United, and it is a long way from the total football that many expected the Dutch coach to bring to Old Trafford when he took charge in the summer.
Speaking to talkSPORT, de Boer said: “Van Gaal is struggling a little bit at Manchester United. Not with the amount of points he’s got, but with his style.
“It’s not the way he wants to play. He’s fighting to get there. At the moment it’s not the football that we are used to with Louis.”
It is unfair to judge van Gaal on the state of half a season during which he is attempting to rebuild a squad, and a team spirit, somewhat decimated last term. Yet, it is not really fair to call United’s season transitional due to the money spent over the summer. Despite signing a wealth of attacking talents, many have been played out of position to counteract the unbalanced nature of the squad, thus reducing their effectiveness.
This blame should lie with both van Gaal and the United management, who completed their business in the summer transfer window with little forethought - and it has been the coach who has suffered because of it. Unable to play a convincing team, van Gaal is living with what he has got, and Ronald de Boer - who worked with his compatriot at Barcelona - believes that the coach is struggling with the style on show at Old Trafford.