Manchester United are on a slippery slope… and have been before the installment of David Moyes as Sir Alex Ferguson's successor even reached it's fourth game, when the club lost to regional rivals Liverpool for the first time this season and struggled to secure any of their primary summer transfer targets.
With nine losses in the Premier League already accumulated (a joint high for United in the modern era of the division's format), nine games still to go and a 50% loss ratio in matches contested in all competitions in 2014, there is the very real possibility that current managerial incumbent Moyes continues to oversee disappointing defeats.
Ardent Moyes backer Richard Keys has long supported the Scotsman at Stretford, claiming that British football coaching needs Moyes to succeed and that the Premier League needs a strong United, however, even the renowned presenter has begun to argue that the time might be right for the board of directors at Old Trafford to make a decision…
That decision may involve Louis van Gaal, a proven winner Ajax, AZ Alkmaar, Barcelona and Bayern Muinich and an experienced coach and manager at the highest echelons of world soccer.
Here are three reasons why it makes sense for Manchester United to replace Moyes with van Gaal sooner, rather than later.
1): van Gaal has demonstrated from taking a number of roles in different leagues/countries that he is capable of adapting, but if he was brought in now, rather than in the summer, he could get a kick-start in embedding himself into Manchester United culture rather than using the pre-season period (when transfers must be signed early to avoid a perilous, panic-stricken purchase like last summer) to acclimatise.
2): The 62-year-old may not be a long-term solution due to a: his age and b: his average stay of 3.2 years in each position since entering full-time managing, but in that time he will be able to completely steady United. Currently, the club are tactically without discipline, with a number of players seemingly unsure of where to be and what position to occupy. For van Gaal, remedying this is the very basis and most simplest aspect of his coaching ethos.
He was once quoted by informed football magazine World Soccer to have said: "Preparing your tactical formation is essential. Each player needs to know where he has to be, and that is why there needs to be mutual understanding because you need absolute discipline. This is a sport played by 22 men, and there are 11 opponents out there playing as a team. Each individual needs to know who he has to beat and be there to support his team-mates.
3): While he had the benefit of strong financial resources at clubs such as Barcelona and Bayern Munich, or elite-level training facilities with traditionally sound academy products at Ajax, he had neither at AZ Alkmaar yet still went on to win the Eredivisie in his final season, securing them Champions League football.
Because he has won titles in three different countries, it would be unfathomable to think he wouldn't have the instant respect of the Carrington dressing room, something Moyes has long struggled with, according to reports today.
4): His media soundbites suggest he would not shy away from any psychological warfare attempted by mind-game gurus such as Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho. When a head coach so comfortably takes command of press conferences and handles or deflects any criticisms so effectively, a positive and confident mood can become widespread throughout the locker-room.
And confidence… in both the locker-room, the training-ground, the playing field and, most importantly, in the manager, is what United players need right now.
5): If van Gaal committed to a number of years or endured a tenure similar to his stay at Ajax, the Premier League could see the next incantation of the Busby Babes or Fergie Fledglings. The talents of Patrick Kluivert, Marc Overmars, Edgar Davids, Clarence Seedorf, Michael Reiziger and Edwin van der Saar were all nurtured by van Gaal.
Adnan Januzaj and the next wave of academy products such as Andreas Pereira and James Wilson could well be the next beneficiaries for any van Gaal mentoring.