The new football season kicks off tomorrow (does that mean summer’s over??) and there’s been more than just a change of manager at Manchester United – Moyes’ successor is making his mark in a variety of ways.
Before Moyes, Sir Alex Ferguson ruled Old Trafford with an iron fist. The old ‘hairdryer treatment’ was a particular tactic when things weren’t going well, as well as the odd miskicked, errant football boot. You could almost imagine Fergie tearing up a few trees, Hulk-style, if his point needed further re-enforcement. That’s not something that could be said of his immediate successor… but it just might of the new guy.
David Moyes came from a similar part of Glasgow but although he had his moments, it never seemed as though he had the same control over the players, or Ferguson’s grip on authority. Soon after Moyes left, rumours began circulating that he had lost the dressing room, and that the players had lost trust in him. Certainly their performances would back that up.
In these pre-season weeks it’s not easy to make concrete judgments about the new United manager, but if this latest story is to be believed, it seems Louis van Gaal has made some very determined decisions about both the team, and its resources. And that includes tearing up, and replacing, all the training pitches.
Van Gaal, at 62, is known for his rigid determination and dogmatic ideas. Whatever the validity of those opinions, he certainly enjoyed what must be considered a successful World Cup, beating champions Spain 5-1 on the way to a very commendable third place, beating hosts Brazil in the third place play off.
Certainly such experiences have fed into his body of experience, both with the human resources of the players, and the other more physical resources of the football team, such as the training facilities. In terms of the former, he watched his new team in the pre-season tour of America and wasn’t backward in coming forward when it came to new signing Luke Shaw, demanding he train on his own, to regain fitness.
Artificial turf for the training pitches
In terms of the latter, the Dutchman hasn’t dragged his heels either. Firstly, he has decided all the United training pitches need to have floodlights installed, so that they can be used all through winter. Further, he feels they are too windy, and that trees should be planted, to create a windbreak. Already sounding more Percy Thrower than Alf Ramsey, Van Gaal has also taken this further step with the tearing up, and replacing, of the training pitches. It seems he favours pitches that are partially artificial, so that they provide for a more uniform, smooth surface throughout the year, which is something we at Cheshire Artificial Grass can certainly agree with (even if we prefer the blue of Stockport County to the red of Manchester United!)
Van Gaal, formerly the manager of powerhouses Bayern Munich and Barcelona, as well as his home country, is pulling no punches with these early demands. Man United’s first foreign manager (not including Scots!), Van Gaal seems to be laying down a marker as much as laying down the artificial turf, notably by demanding these changes are made before he returns from the American tour. Whether these demands are met, of course, is another thing. But it seems likely he will get his way a little more than the club’s manager last season.
Meanwhile, the old pitch is likely to be out the door as a fast as Fellaini. It seems the out-of-control turf that Fellaini calls a hairstyle is equally unpopular with the new manager.