Former Manchester United and Liverpool FC striker Michael Owen believes Louis van Gaal had an unsuccessful first season in charge and failed to find an identity in his team.
A fourth-place finish in the Premier League for Manchester United was viewed as an acceptable first campaign for Van Gaal and his team as they secured a place in the Champions League playoff round, but Michael Owen suggested Van Gaal has much to prove in his second campaign as Manchester United boss.
The striker, who won the Premier League title with Manchester United in the 2012-13 season, believes Van Gaal’s success in guiding the club back into the Champions League was not an achievement worthy of praise.
“I thought it was a disappointing season for Manchester United,” Owen told ESPN FC. “They were knocked out of the cup competition with ease and a little embarrassment if we look at the MK Dons defeat in the Capital One Cup.”
“They didn’t have Champions League football to distract them, yet they sneaked into fourth place after spending so much money last summer.”
“They were not comparable to the Manchester United teams we have come to expect under Sir Alex Ferguson and I just don’t know how they are going to perform in the Premier League and Champions League next season, assuming they get through the playoff.”
“If they had started the season poorly and got better through to the end, you might think they are moving forward, but I still don’t know what their identity is. I still don’t know what type of team they are.”
“Are they meant to have flying wingers, are they meant to be strong in midfield? What is a Louis van Gaal Manchester United team?”
Michael Owen went on to say that the uncertainty over Manchester United forward line makes it tough to assess how they will perform next season.
With Falcao no longer part of the squad after an unsuccessful season on loan from Monaco, and doubts persisting over the future of Robin van Persie at Manchester United, Owen says: “They are going to have some issues in the striking position. Falcao has gone, Robin van Persie is on the wane and then what? Wayne Rooney is a reliable goal threat, but he is not going to be around forever.”
“They have a huge void up front and after letting Danny Welbeck go. You quickly realise they need to spend a whole lot more to compete and they have already spent a lot since Van Gaal arrived.”
Manchester United have the funds at their disposal and are linked heavily with moves for a top class striker to solve their goalscoring woes with Karim Benzema linked to the club in recent weeks.