Alan Brazil: Van Gaal right choice, but needs new blood and good start
The ex-Manchester United player feels that the club have made the right move in hiring the experienced Dutch coach, but warned that there was plenty to do this season at Old Trafford.
“I think United made the right choice there,” he told FourFourTwo during the recently concluded SCC International Soccer Sixes launch event.
“I was disappointed when (David) Moyes left, but they needed someone to come in and clean up this situation.
"Van Gaal is a man with tremendous experience thus Man United will not be too big a job for him.
"When you have been at clubs like Bayern Munich and Barcelona, you will go in there and say ‘okay, bring it on.
"I’m not worried about this at all’.”
Describing Van Gaal as a combustive manager ‘who likes to get his own way’, Brazil feels that it will be ‘interesting’ to see how he manages his relationships with his players.
That said, the former Man United striker believes there are two stronger factors which will ultimately determine his success at the club - getting in quality players and having a good start to the new season.
“Oh god, yes! They need eight to nine new players,” he said.
“It’s not just about three to four.
"The goalkeeper is good, upfront (Wayne) Rooney and (Robin) Van Persie is good, but the defence and midfield should be all-new.
"(Adnan) Januzaj is okay, but there’s no real playmaker.
"Also if he does not start well… Let’s say in the first six games, he win two and lose four, it’ll be very interesting.
"Manchester is not a very happy place at the moment.
"I foresee problems surfacing if that happens.”
After a wretched 2013/2014 season, the Red Devils are going to miss out on UEFA Champions League (UCL) football for the first time since 1996.
Brazil believes that the ultimate aim for Van Gaal now is to restore the club to where they truly belong.
“I think United are playing for fourth spot next season,” he said.
“The main thing about the UCL is that you can miss it for one year, but for a club like them to miss it for two years is a disaster in terms of finances.
"I think ultimately Van Gaal will improve United, but I’m not sure if it’s enough for them to make back into the UCL.”
Moyes’ 10-month reign at United was nothing short of a nightmare with talks about him losing the plot in the dressing room as well as the support from the fans.
Being a fellow Scotsman, Brazil was sympathetic about the former Everton manager's plight.
“I think he was unlucky,” he said.
“The timing was all wrong for him.
"When he was just into the job, we can see how happy he was.
"Halfway through, we all could see his face… the pressure was getting to him; I feel sorry for him.”
Brazil felt that the never-ending struggle to meet the high standards that Sir Alex Ferguson has set at the club proved to be Moyes' downfall.
“I still can’t understand how easily United won the league the year before,” he said.
“I’m still baffled! The other teams were scared of coming to Old Trafford and it was amazing how Fergie managed that.
"Moyes realised it was a bit hard for him to achieve that but he tried… He chopped and changed a lot, maybe too many times and the fans soon realised that.
"He was a bit too negative and not adventurous enough in his tactics.”
Describing the sacking of Moyes as a ‘business decision’, Brazil can say he knows all about the pressure of being something new at the club and having massive expectations bestowed upon him.
The former Scottish international joined the Red Devils in 1984 from Tottenham Hotspur for a fee of 625,000 pounds, but his time at the club was marred by injury and a failure to score enough goals.
He eventually managed a decent 16 goals in 41 appearances but was shipped off to Coventry City two years later.
“At a club like United and coming in with a huge transfer fee, you need to start well,” he reflected.
“I remember it was around 625,000 pounds - that was a lot of money back in those days. When you come in with that sort of price tag, immediately they want goals, goals and more goals.
"The problem for me was that I was being treated for something that was wrong.
"My lower back was terrible but back then there was no things like MRI scans thus I was treated for my legs and groins instead.
"Gradually my fitness level went down and that was disappointing.
"It’s just like (Marouane) Fellaini at the moment- if you don’t start well, the fans start to get on your back and you’ve got big problems.
"When I see him playing against United for Everton, he was great and I understood why David (Moyes) bought him.
"But right now, he’s having a hard job changing the mindset of some fans who think that maybe the club should not have bought him.”
Season 2014/2015 will be a testing season for United but Brazil believes that it will not take too long for them to return to their past glories.
“Next year if they get a Champions League spot, the following year they could be champions,” he predicts.
“Right now, it’s like the time when I was back at the club.
"(Former manager) Ron Atkinson was under a lot of pressure because the club wanted to get back into the big time.
"We have a great reputation but not the best side by any means – Liverpool are.
"It looks the same for next season and Liverpool are definitely the better team as we stand today.”