As Manchester United continue to struggle to find their identity and form under Louis Van Gaal it is becoming increasingly clear how deep the rot at Old Trafford extends.
The Dutchman has seemingly been unable to instil his ‘philosophy’ into his players and continues to baffle some fans with his management decisions and style. However, despite the mistakes that have been made, most crucially the failure to strengthen a defence shorn of its three most experienced players which has been a millstone around the team’s necks all season, United’s current malaise can be traced back to long before Van Gaal’s time. That such an experienced and successful coach is struggling, so far, to reshape the club in his image emphasises just how large and significant the challenges he is facing are. In his first seven months in Manchester the manager released or sold 14 senior players and loaned out a number of others, including Tom Cleverley, Nani and Javier Hernandez. Most of the the fans would argue that there are quite a few more who should follow them out of the door and having watched his team for some time now Van Gaal is likely to agree. At the time of his appointment there were perhaps as many as twenty senior players below the required standard in his squad. Such inadequacies take many years to create, the root causes extending far beyond David Moyes’ brief and disastrous tenure, back to a time when United were on the brink of being the best team in world football.