The fallout from Manchester United’s Champions League exit continues, with players reportedly bemused by Dutch manager Louis van Gaal’s decision-making in the 3-2 defeat to Bundesliga side Wolfsburg on Tuesday.
With Manchester United trailing 2-1 and needing to score to give themselves a chance of progressing, manager Louis van Gaal chose to bring on Nick Powell for Juan Mata in the 69th minute, causing many to scratch their heads at the logic behind the move.
According to reports in the reputed Times newspaper, United players themselves were ‘bemused’ by the substitution, given Powell has been out on loan since 2013, and hadn’t got any minutes under his belt for the senior Red Devils’ side prior to the Wolfsburg game.
The Times article also claims that Manchester United players are not particularly happy with the approach and tactics of the Dutch manager, who reportedly had already met with senior players Wayne Rooney and Michael Carrick earlier in the season to discuss certain aspects of his severe methods.
a Times Sport (@TimesSport) December 10, 2015
However, according to the Manchester Evening News, Van Gaal said of the situation last week: “The most important thing in my opinion is the chemistry between players and staff. That chemistry is the most important thing.
a And when I have the feeling that the chemistry is there, I will always work to my utmost best. But when I have a single feeling that it is not like that, Ia m the first coach that quits and I have proved that already with my former clubs and former jobs.
a I dona t think there is another coach who decides to quit himself because of the money aspect. But I am like that.”
Stories like these are bad news for Manchester United .
Given the reputation of James Ducker and The Times newspaper, it is unlikely that the story is fabricated, in which case it is clear that someone close to the Manchester United dressing room was happy to spill some secrets.
A leaky dressing room — as Chelsea FC’s is notorious for being — is never good news, and more often than not, suggests that the players and manager are not quite on the same page. Van Gaal will be concerned given the number of similar stories that have emerged recently, and only convincing wins in the Premier League over the coming weeks will be able to put an end to them.
Vastly experienced though he is, the Dutchman is also not exactly endearing himself to certain players when he criticises them in public — Bastian Schweinsteiger the latest on a rapidly growing list. While most players may see it as constructive criticism, resentment can build if results don’t improve, and ultimately, it is the manager that will be held accountable.