Anything, Louis Van Gaal does as Manchester United manager, this season in particular, is going to be compared to what was done during David Moyes’ nine month reign as manager. His start to the season, his transfer dealings and his conduct on the sideline etc. have all been compared to the former United boss, now of Real Sociedad.
It was a bad year for United, nobody can argue that. With the club missing out on European football, going out of the FA Cup at home in the third round and losing that awful penalty shoot-out in the semi-final of the league cup, it is impossible to find positives in the year gone by.
But, now, it is time for Van Gaal to emulate one aspect of Moyes’ reign: his run of form over the dreaded Christmas period. Admittedly, the first week of December ’13 was very poor. Two 1-0 home losses to Everton and Newcastle enhanced the already growing hostility towards the new manager as the league position struggled in a big way. By this stage, United had only been top of the table for a day, after their opening game against Swansea and had been outside the Top 4 since the third round of matches.
It’s a great time of the year for fans of the game and fans of football betting, we have top level football coming at us every other day and we can’t get enough of it. But for the players, there is a physical toll and it can be a daunting period when you have a tough run of games or are travelling a distance for an away fixture. Last year, United played three away games and one at home in the space of the busy two week Christmas period and won all four. That run of games consisted of Aston Villa, West Ham (h), Hull and Norwich.
Now for Van Gaal’s first attempt at the English Christmas period. A man who has spent time in Span and Germany as a manager may be accustomed to a nice Christmas break where he will be allowed to re-jig a few things within his side. He won’t hae that opportunity in Manchester.
And when you add the growing list of injuries and the upcoming run of games, it looks like his first festive period in the Premier League will not be an easy one. The importance of good squads (i.e Chelsea and Man City) is no more evident than at Christmas time. In the twenty days from the 8th to the 28th of December, Manchester United will play high flying Southampton, Aston Villa and under pressure Tottenham Hotspur away from home. In the same period, Old Trafford will receive visits from the old enemy Liverpool and Newcastle who, as I mentioned, left with all three points last season.
It’s a lot easier said than done but Van Gaal has a major task ahead of him for this run of games. At the end of the day, it’s Manchester United. As a club, we have to believe we can get the maximum fifteen points from fifteen but, taking a more subdued approach, I’d be happy with getting 10 or more from those games.
Needless to say, it’s going to be an exciting festive perios of football once more and we are in for some highs and lows. Personally, I’m relishing the challenge that Southampton will pose after their great start and of course, nobody in the world of football will be able to hide from the occasion that is presented by United/Liverpool. As a football fan and a betting man, bring it on!!