Last Wednesday marked a year since David Moyes was sacked from his first big managerial opportunity at Manchester United and – for most fans – it is a spell they have happily forgotten.
A 3-0 defeat against Everton last weekend was disappointing but most supporters are agreed that Louis van Gaal has transformed the team that finished in a miserable seventh position last season. It looks like we finally have a team ready to challenge domestically and in Europe once again.
One thing United fans want to see is authority. For something that was embedded in the culture of the club for so long by Sir Alex Ferguson to disappear so quickly was a hugely worrying sign for the Old Trafford faithful.
From the start of Moyes’ brief spell it was obvious that there wasn’t a clearly defined style of play being taught. The former Preston boss failed to stamp his authority on a team that required careful nurturing after Ferguson’s departure and this led to some of United’s worst performances in recent memory. Seven of which occurred at Old Trafford. Shameful.
The so-called ‘Moyesification’ at United was relentless, and the Scotsman seemed intent on pursuing a style of play alien to both United’s players and supporters. It wasn’t long before Old Trafford started to show signs of discontent.
However, under van Gaal, United have turned Old Trafford back into the fortress it once was having lost just twice at home. Blemishes against Swansea City and Southampton have been overshadowed by standout performances against the likes of Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool, helping to push United to fourth place in the league.
Employing a possession based style of play, van Gaal has largely ensured that United take control of games. The Dutchman has shown his team how to press, dominate, and play a continental style of football boasting fluidity, precision and determination. The Dutchman’s style is a refreshing change from the typical rough and tumble, ‘hoofball’ culture rooted into the English game, something that Moyes sadly seemed intent on chasing at United.
With every passing game, van Gaal shows United fans that he is their man. He exudes a confidence, a coolness and a football knowledge that his predecessor just didn’t possess. With improving football and an air of confidence surrounding Old Trafford once more, supporters should be enthusiastic about next season, especially if recent transfer rumours are true.
For now though, United fans should feel confident that the flying Dutchman can put United back where they belong, at the zenith of world football. The journey, for anyone associated with United, should be very exciting indeed.