In case you hadn’t heard, Louis Van Gaal is unhappy. He’s unhappy with the kickoff time for this afternoon’s International Champions Cup contest against AS Roma. Apparently, 2 p.m. is too early for his team in the predicted 90-degree heat of Denver.
While Van Gaal may have a point in the case of playing at altitude in blistering heat, the Dutchman has been pretty unhappy for a few weeks now.
First, he was unhappy that the Netherlands had to play for third place after being eliminated by Argentina in the World Cup Semifinals. Then, he was unhappy with Manchester United’s preseason schedule and trip to the United States. Now, he’s unhappy with the kickoff time in Denver. Seems being unhappy is a way of life for Van Gaal.
Fortunately, his unhappiness has usually led to success.
Van Gaal has a long and storied resume of successes at clubs such as Ajax, FC Barcelona and Bayern Munich. To date, Van Gaal’s teams have claimed more than 20 trophies during at his respective stops. In his last unhappy turn, the Dutch came out and dismantled hosts Brazil to take a well-earned third-place finish home from the World Cup. Now, he takes over a Red Devils squad coming off a historically poor showing in the Premier League.
At first glance, it certainly seems Van Gaal is going to spice things up at Old Trafford. His new team looked both sharp and fit in their dismantling of a hapless Los Angeles Galaxy team in their first warm-up of the new campaign.
The real tests are yet to come. Today, it’s the Serie-A runners-up. A few days later, it’ll be reigning European Champions Real Madrid. And then it’s off to the domestic campaign in England.
While Van Gaal’s formation and style of play allowed United to flourish against the Galaxy, it’ll be interesting to see how it all translates once the action becomes real. Defending league champs Manchester City return virtually intact while Liverpool, Chelsea and Arsenal have all been busy adding and subtracting players in hopes to catching up to the Sky Blues.
For their part, the Red Devils acquired talented defender Luke Shaw in the hopes of compensating for the losses of Rio Ferdinand, Nemanja Vidic and Patrice Evra. Other than that, United looks very much like the same team that finished seventh in the final table a year ago.
It’s therefore up to Van Gaal to mix up a recipe that will allow the Red Devils to climb up a hotly contested Premier League top-half.
The task before Van Gaal is indeed daunting. But there is hope in Manchester these days. After all, Van Gaal is already unhappy. Perhaps unhappiness for him will lead to joy for others in a few months.