Times have certainly changed for Louis Van Gaal. Whilst few seem unhappy with the clubs league position or the change in direction under his leadership, he now spends much of his press conferences defending his style of play.
Certainly the defence has been far from solid for most of the season, but it’s the tinkering with a winning team that seems to draw many critics. Furthermore, his recent long ball tactics were heavily questioned against Sam Allardyce’s West Ham (of all teams). What was unusual was Van Gaal’s response when, in a press conference, he pulled out a sheet of statistics then, quite angrily, defended both his tactics and style of play against West Ham.
In truth, the stats he discussed demonstrated that Manchester United had not resorted to long ball tactics throughout the game, however, he conceded that he did have to changed how the team player in order to counter a confident and resurgent West Ham team. That said, it was an unusual move for a manager, who was not under fire for the team’s performance, to come out fighting so strongly such was the criticism.
Interestingly, no one would have questioned Sir Alex Ferguson like that but the question is why? Under his leadership Manchester United had a number of unexpected and sound beatings… the 6-3 humiliation at the hands of Southampton comes to mind. Even the, Sir Alex never felt the need to defend his tactics so comprehensively. In fact, I cannot imagine him having need to defend himself as it was rare for the press to get on his back.
So, why the double standards? Obviously, Van Gaal is not as well established as Manchester United Manager as Sir Alex was, nor has he yet won the trophies at the club that Sir Alex did. That said, Louis van Gaal has won his fair share of trophies and clearly knows his stuff about football management so why the double standards from the press?
This is not, however, the only time the UK sports press have shown double standards. After the recent pitch invasion late in the Aston Villa FA cup tie the press went into overdrive and headlines stated how disgusting it was and how we had returned to the ‘dark days of football’. However, when a giant killing happened recently and a lower league club eased past a big name team the fans entered the pitch but the press described it as the magic of the cup!
So, the UK sports press are certainly guilty of double standards time and time again but fair play to Van Gaal for standing up to them and proving them wrong.