Louis Van Gaal Must Be as Ruthless as Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United

Rob Blanchette@@_Rob_BFeatured ColumnistJune 8, 2014


When David Moyes recently exited the Manchester United managerial door there were many facets and weaknesses one could highlight as to why he got the sack.

Yes, the tactics were poor and yes, the over-reliance on everything Wayne Rooney showed a shortsightedness that rightfully cost him his job.

However, there was one overriding point that shone like a beacon from a lighthouse situated on the most devilish of rocks—and that was Moyes was not ruthless enough. 

Moyes needed to be decisive in his first two transfer windows and weed out the players who would not stand by his regime.

In hindsight, it is easy to say this but when it was clear that the squad needed to be revamped—something every United fan thought was essential—Moyes stood back on his heels and remained stationary. 

NYON, SWITZERLAND - JANUARY 24:  Sir Alex Ferguson speaks during a press conference as he is appointed UEFA Coaching Ambassador at the UEFA headquarters, The House of European Football, on January 24, 2014 in Geneva, Switzerland.  (Photo by Harold Cunning
Harold Cunningham/Getty Images

Sir Alex Ferguson recently attended and spoke at the EY World Entrepreneur of the Year awards as part of his work for Harvard Business School, and he addressed a number of business leaders from around the planet. 

The 72-year-old spoke frankly about his formula for success and admitted the ruthless streak that is needed to run the biggest football club in the world.

As reported by The Telegraph's enterprise editor Rebecca Burn-Callander, Fergie said:

I was paid to keep winning, that was my job, so I was ruthless. I’m not going to deny that. You have to have a strong personality when you’re leading people. And I’ve got a pretty strong personality. I never doubted myself. Even in the dark days when I first joined Manchester United, I knew that what I was doing was completely right.

BARCELONA, SPAIN - NOVEMBER 25: Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson (l) and Barcelona coach Louis Van Gaal chat before the UEFA Champions League match between Barcelona and Manchester United at the Nou Camp in Barcelona, Spain.  (Photo by Shaun Botter
Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

The former manager's words are nothing new but they reaffirm where Moyes got it wrong and where Louis van Gaal needs to get it right.

Moyes trotted along for 12 months making excuse after excuse as United capitulated into a gigantic mess on the football pitch.

The strategy and vision was to give the Scotsman an extended period to get it right—years rather than months—but his lack of spine when addressing the biggest problems at United broke his authority and credibility. 

And footballers read these signs quicker than any fan can. Van Gaal will need to approach United's squad building in a completely different manner to that of his predecessor. 

CHESTER, ENGLAND - MAY 08: Manchester United players Rio Ferdinand (L), Jonny Evans, Michael Carrick and Nemanja Vidic arrive at Chester racecourse on May 08, 2013 in Chester, England. (Photo by Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images)
Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images

Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand have gone and it is arguable that decision should have been taken a year a go. But the lack of a ruthless approach did not dictate this.

United also started last season with more midfield issues than the whole of the top four clubs combined. And yet again Moyes and Ed Woodward failed to address this and set United on a course to hit the rocks and almost sink beneath the choppy waters.

Van Gaal will immediately need to take United by the scruff of the neck and drag it into territory it may not feel comfortable in.

New tactics and new players are needed to make United a force again, and the new boss will need to force the Glazer family's hand and insist that money is spent on the very best talent. 

Uwe Lein/Associated Press

Over time, and with trophies, Fergie built up confidence in his decision making due to his incredible consistency of success but where Moyes was brought in to be a younger, hybrid version of what came before, Van Gaal will need to be something completely different. 

Some United supporters will love Van Gaal and his apparent eccentricity and some will hate him for it.

But what is sure is that the Dutch coach will need to approach his role at United with an iron fist.

And right all of the wrongs of the last 12 months and beyond. 


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