Louis Van Gaal must stop trying to out smart United fans


Louis Van Gaal is over complicating things at Manchester United

Louis Van Gaal is a very accomplished manager on the world football stage who doesn’t need to be concerned about what anyone thinks of him. Instead, he’s spending way too much time over complicating things at United in an effort to outsmart their opinionated fan base.

Van Gaal would be wise to remember the acronym KISS: keep it simple stupid. He’s doing anything but for United right now. Every controversial move he makes is a desperate attempt to show the world how smart he is. That vanity is killing Manchester United’s chances for success.

The club’s loss to Wolfsburg which banished them from the Champions League is just the latest example of this ridiculous decision-making. United fans are justifiably irate that Van Gaal hauled off Juan Mata to insert seldom-used Nick Powell into the match. I’m not a great fan of Mata, but he was having quite a productive match before being subbed off. Replacing an accomplished Spanish international in a must-win Champions League match in favor of an unproven youngster is sheer madness. It’s Van Gaal making a wild decision to show the world how smart he is.

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The Powell-for-Mata substitution is just one example in Van Gaal’s pattern of bizarre decisions designed to boost his own ego. He is obsessed with the idea of his own intelligence. How else can you explain his hesitance to move Morgan Schneiderlin in the starting lineup when the French midfielder was fit. Any casual fan could see that he made for a better partner with Bastian Schweinsteiger than Michael Carrick, but Van Gaal drug his feet in making the move. He’d settled on the fact that Carrick and Schweinsteiger was his ideal midfield pairing and refused to see the obvious evidence to the contrary. Once United’s fans and pundits started to clamor for Schneiderlin’s inclusion it only made the United manager dig his heels in and resist the move. He’s allergic to the obvious.

Want another example? Just look at the way Wayne Rooney and Anthony Martial have been deployed on the season. It’s very obvious that Martial’s best position is as a central striker, but Van Gaal persisted for an extended period of time in pushing him wide in favor of Rooney. The same Wayne Rooney that everyone with a pair of eyes could see was struggling mightily. Again, the more United fans called for Martial to replace Rooney, the more stubborn Van Gaal became in his original mindset.

I could go on and on with additional examples, but I think you get the idea. Instead, let’s take a look at the mindset of a man like Van Gaal. You don’t get to his station in life without an incredible amount of self-belief. He’s very clearly a borderline egomaniac. I don’t mean that as necessarily a bad thing, but everything about him, from his actions to his words, scream that he thinks he is smarter than everyone else. That obscene amount of self-belief has made him the successful manager that he is. The problem now is that he’s taken it too far.

He’s read too many of his own press clippings. He is utterly convinced that he is the brightest manager in the game and he is desperate for everyone to acknowledge that fact. That’s why he continues to make decisions that fly in the face of obvious reality.

For Van Gaal, being right isn’t enough anymore. Instead, he must make every decision with the goal of showing people that he’s the smartest football mind. He can’t just do what everyone sees is the obvious solution to succeed. Instead, he must find a different path that others don’t see. That’s why he plays someone like Nick Powell instead of Juan Mata in the most important match of the season. Leaving Mata in to succeed was too obvious. He needed to make a bold decision that would amaze the world when it succeeded.

The trouble with those type of decisions is when you start looking for them, you make huge mistakes. That’s the pit Van Gaal has fallen into now. He looks for the amazing solution to every problem instead of the obvious solution. That horrible decision-making pattern is what’s sinking Manchester United. For them to get better, Louis Van Gaal must stop trying to outsmart the world with every managerial decision.