Martial and Depay unhappy under 'selfish' Van Gaal - Parker

Paul Parker feels Louis van Gaal's inflexible management style is holding back players such as Memphis Depay and Anthony Martial.

Former Manchester United defender Paul Parker believes Memphis Depay and Anthony Martial are unhappy under Louis van Gaal due to the Dutchman's strict management style.

Van Gaal guided United to fourth place in the Premier League table last term, while they sit third in the table this campaign, trailing leaders Manchester City by just one point.

The Old Trafford side have received plenty of criticism, though, and Parker has blamed Van Gaal's lack of flexibility for his attacker's underwhelming form.

"Sir Alex Ferguson knew how to manage his players. As his side changed, he too had to alter his management style," Parker wrote for Eurosport. 

"He did – and that's why he was able to drag Manchester United to the Premier League title in 2013. Did he enjoy it? No. But he did it anyway.

"When Louis van Gaal arrived at United, I thought he too would be flexible. But we now have a situation where there are a lot of discontented players and we have to question why they are playing badly. 

"I look at Martial and worry for him. He looks like a boy who doesn't smile anymore. He doesn't look like he's enjoying himself.

"The form Depay is showing hasn't just happened because he's playing in the Premier League. That boy probably feels like a scapegoat. He's in a country relatively close to where he's from, but feeling a million miles away."

Parker then went on to stress that Van Gaal is not getting the best out of his players due to his poor man-management.

"Van Gaal puts the fear of God into players," the former England man added. 

"It has to be his way. He selfishly manages the team. And no one enjoys it.  He may be a successful manager, but he must learn – even at his age – to become a good man-manager.

"At the moment we have to say he's not man-managing that team. All those players he's got are not bad players, and they've not played negative football all their lives. 

"He's being incredibly stubborn. Any player who doesn't conform to what he wants is chopped. He looks for a player who's made a mistake, then drops them for the next game."

1 comment


There is a reason why most ex-stars such as Paul Scholes, et al, with some notable exceptions, make such terrible football managers! Paul Parker is no exception!

Many ex-stars had also criticized LVG’s foundational changes at Barcelona but they were ultimately proven wrong when it finally clicked & Barcelona went on to become one of the best sides to have ever existed!

What these MU moaners fail to understand is that SAF had worked out how to dominate the league, but that LVG is preparing MU for the next level.

In a nutshell, the sum total of Ferguson's tactics was basically crossing, by fullbacks or wingers, at the near post. Strikers aimed to beat center backs with quick and instinctive near-post runs. That worked well & United picked up valuable points galore against the minnows, oftentimes enough points in the bank to win the league. But every time they came up against the more tactically disciplined teams like Mourinho's or Guardiola's, they came unstuck! It's no coincidence, who Mourinho & Guardiola learnt their trade from...Ferguson also operated at a time when United had the financial muscle to buy the best players... Now with oil clubs & TV money, the gulf in standards (pun intended) have narrowed significantly!

Someone should remind Scholes that he played in the 2011 Champions League Final in Wembley, when the entire team including Scholes, were given a footballing lesson by Barcelona! It was even worse then watching the team, including Scholes (albeit coming on as a substitute) huffing & puffing & looking bemused all game, chasing shadows!

Ferguson's United played quite a few many dreary European nights...nights that bored me to tears too!

Now let's examine LVG's tactics. Tactically, to solve United’s defensive woes, LVG introduced the double pivot, i.e. using 2 holding midfielders in front of the back 4, to break up play, distribute the ball & generally control the tempo of the game.

This makes the defense solid & allows United to dominate possession, but it also slows down play as the build up happens too slowly – holding midfielders always need that extra touch, always need to have a look when they have the ball. That gives the opponent time to position themselves to stop the killer pass and mark the forwards. Plus, this tactic means there is one less creative playmaker.

Rooney’s plunge in form has scuttled the tactic for it can work well as the team’s No 10 can play as an extra attacker, knowing that he’s covered by the double pivot! The solution is obvious…

So IMO, when LVG finally replaces Rooney or persuades Rooney as a No. 10, to play as an extra attacker...& recruit a midfielder in the mould of Sami Khadeira to knit things together in a box to box role, with Sweinsteiger dictating from deep, the team will continue to attract criticism for its slow possession based football…

An analogy is due here. Look at master chefs & their incredible knife skills. Those skills were not acquired overnight. The master chefs were, I'm sure, initially labored & slow in their knife techniques & it was through years of constant repetition of the basics that it became almost reflexive. Their hands move in a blur without their having to think of it.

I have a friend who spends her life playing classical violin concertos as a soloist with the world's leading orchestras. People have no idea of the constant discipline involved, the tens of thousands of hours intense practice she has done in her life and the continued quantity and intensity of hours practice which she still has to put in day in/day out to maintain and improve her level.

What LVG is aiming for…for the players moves to be so quick without them having to think too much about it, almost a kind of “highly disciplined reflexive-football", is something that’d take years to groove in!

So the next step in the evolution of United’s play is to adopt one touch football whilst playing the same system.

In fact, all Rijkaard did after taking over at Barcelona was to adopt the same system that LVG laid down but tweaking it slightly by playing one-touch football.

This was taken to the extreme by Guardiola who maintained the same system but cranked up the speed of the one-touch football another notch, which made Barcelona’s football untouchable & awe inspiring! It’s actually an evolution.

Barcelona’s recent treble success backs the remarkable work Luis Enrique has done in evolving Barcelona’s play in finding the right blend between direct and possession football. They were aided in this score by having probably the worlds best attacking trio!

Suarez had struggled playing wide pre-2015; Luis Enrique swapped positions between Messi & Suarez in a decision which transformed Barca’s attack. Suarez is arguably the best No. 9 in the world right now, Messi is the best footballer in the world and Neymar could potentially be the best player in the world.

So what happens when you find a coherent system to bring the best out of them collectively? The most goals ever by an attacking trio! Even Guardiola, currently with Bayern Munich, acknowledges that Barcelona is now the best counter attacking team in the world!

LVG just didn’t have the time to complete the transformation at Barcelona & Bayern. United should give him the time.

In any event, even if it doesn’t come to fruition during LVG’s tenure, I’m pretty sanguine about it, as I know that it’d get there under a new manager, provided the system is evolved & perhaps, even slightly tweaked from time to time, but not changed in its entirety!

The upshot is, most managers would be jostling for LVG’s job as it would be the easiest job in the world, knowing that LVG has done all the foundational work! It would be no surprise if Pep Guardiola picks United as his next assignment. Would Ryan Giggs be the next Luis Enrique? That’s something for the CEO or the Board to decide…