The coach still needs to coach

Kapi-Mana News - - SPORT -

When Dutch­man Louis van Gaal re­placed David Moyes ( and tem­po­rary ap­point­ment Ryan Giggs) as Manch­ester United’s man­ager a few months ago, he scoffed at the qual­ity of the squad he had in­her­ited.

‘‘We can’t win the Premier­ship with th­ese play­ers,’’ van Gaal said, and set about buy­ing in more big-name stars.

He paid £29 mil­lion (NZ$57 mil­lion) for An­der Her­rera, £27 mil­lion for Luke Shaw, £16 mil­lion for Mar­cos Rojo, £59.7 mil­lion for An­gel Di Maria, £14 mil­lion for Da­ley Blind, £6 mil­lion to get Radamel Fal­cao on loan and an undis­closed amount for teenaged Vanja Milinkovic.

The spend­ing splurge meant Manch­ester United’s squad, al­ready the fifth most ex­pen­sive among Euro­pean clubs, rose to third on that list, be­hind Real Madrid and Barcelona.

The Real Madrid squad is worth about 535 mil­lion euros (NZ$835 mil­lion) and Barcelona’s comes in at 530 mil­lion euros. Manch­ester United’s is now worth 505 mil­lion euros, ahead even of big spenders Bay­ern Mu­nich, Manch­ester City, Chelsea and Ju­ven­tus.

The spend­ing spree hasn’t helped van Gaal, whose team have not won a Premier­ship match this sea­son.

United have lost 2- 1 at home to Swansea, and drawn 1-1 with Sun­der­land and 0-0 with Burn­ley. They were also thrashed 4-0 in the League Cup by lowly Mil­ton Keynes Dons ( for­merly Wim­ble­don).

The com­bined cost of those four op­po­si­tion squads would not even re­motely ap­proach what Manch­ester United’s crown jew­els are val­ued at.

Ever­ton man­ager David Moyes was lured to United in 2013 to re­place the great Alex Fer­gu­son and had a dis­as­trous sea­son, dur­ing which the club won no tro­phies, fin­ished sev­enth in the Premier League and failed to qual­ify for a Euro­pean com­pe­ti­tion for the first time since 1990.

Right now, Moyes’ record doesn’t seem quite so bad when stacked up against what van Gaal has man­aged. United are cur­rently 14th in the Premier­ship ta­ble.

I was sus­pi­cious when I heard van Gaal’s first ut­ter­ings about not hav­ing good enough play­ers.

The squad he in­her­ited had a com­bined value of £370 mil­lion. The play­ers, from Wayne Rooney down, weren’t ex­actly chopped liver.

Sure, ev­ery man­ager wants more su­per­stars, but van Gaal was send­ing out a poor mes­sage. Didn’t he back him­self to work with the tal­ent al­ready at the club, build part­ner­ships and im­prove the play­ers’ per­for­mances?

It’s true that good play­ers make good coaches.

Gra­ham Henry would not have been able to coach Ja­pan to Rugby World Cup hon­ours in 2011. Equally, John Kir­wan, Ja­pan’s coach, would prob­a­bly have fin­ished that tour­na­ment with out­stand­ing re­sults if he’d been coach­ing the All Blacks.

But van Gaal didn’t ex­actly in­herit a sub­stan­dard group of play­ers. Per­haps they’d lost a bit of belief and per­haps there was room for one or two canny pur­chases.

The mes­sage he sent out was all wrong. He seemed to want to buy a Premier­ship, rather than coach a team to that hon­our.

I’m not sur­prised Manch­ester United have been so dis­ap­point­ing this sea­son. When the boss doesn’t back him­self, how can the play­ers?

Never mind Fer­gu­son, who from 1986 till 2013 helped United fill their trophy cab­i­net sev­eral times over. United fans now are wist­fully re­call­ing the days of Moyes.

Photo: REUTERS

Star sign­ing: An­gel Di Maria is in­tro­duced to the Old Traf­ford crowd last week by Manch­ester United man­ager, Louis van Gaal.

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