Former Manchester United defender Paul Parker writes that even if under-fire manager Louis van Gaal is the reason for the Red Devils' troubles, sacking him now will be a blow to the club’s reputation.
Everyone knows football is a results business and the results clearly haven’t been going Manchester United’s way of late.
But I like to think United won’t suddenly panic and go down the path of firing Louis van Gaal and bringing in someone like a Jose Mourinho, as has been rumoured.
They can’t afford to just go and sack another manager after what happened with David Moyes. Then they would become just like any other club. They become a Real Madrid or a Chelsea and Manchester United shouldn’t have that type of culture.
At the end of the day, I don’t deny Van Gaal has got to change. He keeps going on about philosophy, which I absolutely despise. It’s the worst word used in football. He has to adapt. He’s asking his players to adapt to his philosophy, but he’s got to adapt to the modern game and understand that you can’t dictate to players and bully them anymore.
Players have a free spirit now. The game has allowed that. You need to allow your players to express themselves. He’s suffocating those players. He’s not allowing them to breathe anymore.
I hear people constantly talk about what they’ve done defensively. They’ve done that because Chris Smalling is playing above his normal capabilities at the moment in time and goalkeeper David de Gea has kept them in it.
Without those two, Manchester United would be sitting a lot further down and they wouldn’t be on 29 points. They could be on 19 points.
They also can’t score goals. They don’t have an out-and-out, regular goal-scorer at this point in time or anybody that looks like scoring goals regularly. They don’t even look like creating many opportunities.
They might have one of the better defensive records in the league, but they give away more opportunities at goal to the opposition than most sides in the Premier League.
We saw it when they played Norwich last time out. Before Norwich scored their first goal, they had barely been across the halfway line. But the first opportunity they had, they scored.
I don’t think they need Louis van Gaal going and spending any more money. He simply has to improve what they already have.
If Manchester United do sack him, that would just be them becoming like all the rest. They’d just become a hire-and-fire club and I always thought they were better than that.
Does he deserve to stay in the job? Not really, but he deserves to see if he can turn them around without having to spend a load of money again. He has to change, as a person and as a man.
If he can’t do that, he should put his hand up, walk away and retire gracefully. But you walk away admitting that you can’t adapt to the modern game.
Paul Parker is Technical Director for JSSL Arsenal, Singapore’s No.1 Youth Soccer Club – www.jssl-singapore.com