Van Gaal has spent big money and spent it badly

United man­ager pay­ing price for poor sign­ings but I can­not see the club sack­ing him ... yet

The Daily Telegraph - Total Football - - FRONT PAGE - HARRY RED­KNAPP

If United wanted Jose they would have done it. They will go for Sime­one or Guardi­ola

Manch­ester United are a club de­void of ex­cite­ment and Louis van Gaal’s ego has come crash­ing back down to earth with an almighty bump. United are an av­er­age team with av­er­age play­ers and the night­mare sce­nario of miss­ing out on the top four is now look­ing a gen­uine pos­si­bil­ity.

The sup­port­ers have seen enough, they were boo­ing af­ter just 23 min­utes of the game against Southamp­ton, and all the at­ten­tion is on Van Gaal and how much longer he can stay in charge.

He has had one big re­al­ity check this sea­son and, just like with Jose Mour­inho, he has dis­cov­ered that it is not all about him, it is about the play­ers. If you have got good play­ers it is the eas­i­est job in the world – but if, like United, you have got av­er­age play­ers it is the hard­est.

Van Gaal has now got a worse record than David Moyes at this stage of the sea­son and that statis­tic about United not scor­ing in a first half at Old Traf­ford for 11 matches is amaz­ing.

The last time they scored a firsthalf goal at home was at the end of Septem­ber against Wolfs­burg in the Cham­pi­ons League – and even that was a penalty!

He has achieved a lot in his ca­reer but th­ese past 12 months have shown that he is not in­vin­ci­ble. It seems like he has tried ev­ery­thing and none of it has worked. He has tried three at the back with wing-backs, he’s tried a back four yet they still do not set the world alight be­cause there is no sparkle at the top of the pitch.

With ev­ery bad re­sult, and there have been quite a few this sea­son, the pres­sure cranks up a notch and we see all the head­lines about Van Gaal fac­ing the sack or re­sign­ing from his post.

But I can­not see any­thing hap­pen­ing with Van Gaal be­cause, quite sim­ply, if United wanted to get rid of him they would have done it by now.

Van Gaal will still think he can achieve things this sea­son, de­spite all the strug­gles, and sack­ing the man­ager now would be ef­fec­tively writ­ing the sea­son off.

If the United board had wanted to ap­point Mour­inho they would have done it al­ready so I think they will wait un­til the sum­mer and go for some­body like Pep Guardi­ola or Diego Sime­one, if they miss out on the top four.

United will have no prob­lems at­tract­ing man­agers of that cal­i­bre be­cause of their rep­u­ta­tion but those guys are sim­ply not avail­able at the mo­ment so I fully ex­pect Van Gaal to bat­tle on.

No­body was re­ally that sur­prised when Southamp­ton went to Old Traf­ford and won, which tells you ev­ery­thing about the cur­rent United squad.

They are top-six ma­te­rial but that is about it. They have got no­body spe­cial, no ex­cit­ing in­di­vid­u­als and no­body that can change the game, like a Ryan Giggs, or con­trol the game like Paul Sc­holes used to do ev­ery week.

United sup­port­ers are used to win­ning ti­tles and play­ing sparkling foot­ball but those play­ers are not there any more. You are only as good as your play­ers. Fin­ish­ing in the top four is now go­ing to be very dif­fi­cult, surely a min­i­mum tar­get for Van Gaal and the United board at the start of the sea­son.

Le­ices­ter City just are not show­ing any signs of stop­ping, Arse­nal and Manch­ester City are in there and you can­not rule Tot­ten­ham Hot­spur out of it be­cause they are re­ally run­ning into form and could even win the league.

Miss­ing out on the Cham­pi­ons League next sea­son would be a disas­ter for United and is likely to have a knock-on ef­fect on who they can sign in the sum­mer.

They made a mess of the Cham­pi­ons League this sea­son any­way, fail­ing to qual­ify from a group that I think they should have coasted through.

United have also un­der­lined just how im­por­tant re­cruit­ment is for clubs nowa­days.

They have spent a lot of money and spent it badly.

I would love to know who signed those play­ers. What al­ways amazes me is that you never see the re­cruit­ment peo­ple when things go wrong. It’s been the same at Liverpool and As­ton Villa, the man­agers are ex­pected to just go in there and wave a magic wand.

I re­mem­ber my first job at Bournemouth, I had a visit from Alec Stock, a great man­ager who worked won­ders at Ful­ham. My of­fice was a mess and the desk was un­tidy, so I apol­o­gised.

Alec said: “You won’t get the sack be­cause your desk is un­tidy Harry, you get the sack when you lose games and sign bad play­ers.”

It has al­ways stuck with me and it still res­onates to this day, es­pe­cially when you look at the predica­ment of clubs like Manch­ester United.

They are locked in a strug­gle and the heat is re­ally on the man­ager – but I would still be sur­prised if he leaves the club this sea­son.

Án­gel di María Fee £59.7m Games 24 + 8 sub Goals 11 One un­der­whelm­ing year at Old Traf­ford be­fore a move to PSG – at a loss of nearly £16m – hardly rep­re­sents in­spired busi­ness. An­thony Mar­tial £36m (ris­ing to £61.5m) Games 24 + 3 sub Goals 8 Jury...

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