The Great Game is no reference to football itself or the beautiful game but more of a fact that Manchester United’s current manager does come across as some sort of psychopathic, madcap genius who sees management as a giant chess board rather than being a role in a sport.
One minute being friendly and jovial with the press, the next taciturn, blunt and cold. He can make a fine decision like the heady six weeks last season where he fielded a team with perfect balance to secure our place in the top four. He can equally do things completely bewildering that lead us to losing the next three games – culminating in a shellacking at Everton – after that or having Phil Jones take corners.
One minute a Renaissance natural philosopher with a genius to rival Da Vinci or Francis Bacon, the next a drunken rambling pisspot on the corner of Tib Street screaming into nothing while envisioning his own personal abyss.
This summer demonstrated that complete unfathomableness once again. Van Gaal made four excellent signings, all quality players in positions that needed filling and he continued to drop the dead weight, with the likes of Van Persie, Nani and Rafael being cast off the wage bill. We’ll try and pretend Falcao never happened, just like Chelsea fans sure as bloody well will come next May.
However, the stubborn nature of the man has seen us fail to buy a centre half of which the team is in dire need. As things stand right now, Chelsea should win the league fairly easily. Arsenal still lack up front and required presence in midfield, while City and Brendan Rodgers F.C, much like United, hold a mystifying belief don’t believe having a top class centre half is necessary to be successful. But it definitely is as many of us found out when we watched a comfortable 3-1 lead dissolve into an anarchic crash in Leicester.
Maybe Van Gaal is just playing some game with us here. He is a Moriarty type figure, using deception and duplicity into making us think he’s happy with things before unveiling Diego Godin as the latest signing. Or, even more absurdly, successfully unveiling one of our existing defenders as the new Alessandro Nesta as opposed to the brigade of maybes, never-weres and Keystone Cops currently making up United’s centre back selection.
Don’t be surprised if Wayne Rooney laces up his boots to do his best impersonation of Beckenbauer this season, he would certainly be a better option than Phil Jones or the eternally frustrating Jonny Evans.
Van Gaal’s aims last season also fluctuated, title challenge to top four to winning a trophy to simply avoiding another unbelievable collapse like those in Leicester and the modernist, purpose built hellhole known as Milton Keynes. Van Gaal’s aims probably didn’t change at all, he just lead us all on a merry dance with our emotions because he felt like. All the while he schemed and laid out his grand plan to make his team the best in the land and more importantly smugly lord it all over us that he is brilliant and in comparison our brains are the equivalent of single celled amoebas.
I imagine the inside of Louis Van Gaal’s head is the like the film Being John Malkovich where everybody looks like Louis Van Gaal, discussing how brilliant they are but only being able to say the word “philosophy.” Somewhere in there, he probably envisions winning the league with long ball football, with Phil Jones upfront nodding in Wayne Rooney’s long passes in his role as a libero. In terms of the grand plan we all hope and believe it is to win every trophy possible but knowing Van Gaal’s history he could end up pulling a Moriarty at Reichenbach, sacrificing his job and career just to make a point and have the last laugh.
Still, I’m not sure who the Sherlock Holmes in this scenario is, the rest of the Premier League managers fail to produce the spontaneity, wit, charisma or genius of Sherlock Holmes, the best on offer is the eminently mockable and unintentionally hilarious Brendan Rodgers. Regrettably, he is blue-sky thinking moron who just thinks he’s a genius.