Former Manchester United stalwart and current Sky Sports pundit Gary Neville has called on Man United fans and pundits alike to stop pining for the good oul days under Alex Ferguson. Writing in his Telegraph column today, Neville says its time for United observers to accept that the death by boredom football under Louis Van Gaal is here to stay and to forget any notions of the free flowing, devilish football that was Ferguson's hallmark:
The time has come for Manchester United fans – me included – to let go of the Sir Alex Ferguson reign and stop judging this new era by former glories. The style of play and the names have changed, but the one person not confused by the team’s development will be Louis van Gaal.
It represents an about turn by Neville who actively called for Ryan Giggs to be given the Old Trafford hot seat after the sacking of David Moyes last season and who has never missed an opportunity to use all manner of gadgets in the Monday Night Football studio to criticise Van Gaal for betraying United's supposed sacred tradition of risk taking football. He did still however, have some pointers for Van Gaal and a few gentle jabs at United's summer signings:
Personally I would like them to play at a higher tempo. I would also like them to press high against inferior opposition, but I've come to the conclusion this isn't the Van Gaal way. It's what I believe in, what United have previously believed in and not what is in front of us now. I also think most of the new signings should be performing at a higher level.
Neville makes the rather simplistic comparison between Van Gaal and Ferguson as thus:
How is it different? Van Gaal likes more controlled possession. Sir Alex liked possession too, but his big words were “tempo and risk.” He used those words so often in our changing room: "I want tempo and rhythm in our passing." Get the ball moving quickly.
Under Ferguson their was a greater intent to take risks until the game was won.
It's amusing to watch this kind of revisionism of the final years of Ferguson's reign, while United remained successful, their football became progressively risk free in his final years at Old Trafford culminating in him sending out his team to not lose in what was ultimately a title decider against Manchester City in 2012. But it's the romantic notion of chalk on the boots wingers that Van Gaal will always be measured against.