There are many metrics by which you can measure Manchester United's decline. There are the obvious ones, like trophies won, points earned, goals scored and the proximity of Liverpool to their perch. There are financial ones also, as Robbie Savage claimed last night that Manchester United spent more money on transfers in the past two seasons than Leicester City have in their entire history. There are, however, some more intangible barometers. One appears to be how entertaining Louis Van Gaal is at Manchester United's postseason awards dinner.
Last season ended relatively well for United: they finished in the top four and were particularly impressive in beating Spurs, Liverpool, and Manchester City towards the back-end of the season. A triumphant Van Gaal made a fundamentally hilarious speech at the awards, which has sadly since been removed from the internet by the humourless folk at Manchester United. Thankfully, one brief part of the speech has been rescued by The Football Ramble:
Van Gaal's speech last night was far more disappointing. It was, of course, starved of public attention because of Leicester's winning of the Premier League, although David de Gea winning Player of the Year for the third season in a row is not necessarily worthy of news. During the speech, Van Gaal addressed his own position, as speculation intensifies that Jose Mourinho will finally land the job he craves more than any.
Van Gaal was steadfast, claiming that he will be in the job next season, and claimed that expectations are too high at Old Trafford:
We have to meet the expectations of the biggest club in the world. Expectations are too high. When the media is writing for six months I am sacked already... I can cope with that. It is not new for me. For my players, it is not so easy.They are reading every day. What do you think about my authority? What do you think about the way they want to follow my advice, when their coach is showed like a nobody because I cannot do anything?
While this is a rational explanation, Leicester winning the league is utterly irrational, which is going to be a burden for all mangers both now and in the future: sometimes, regardless of how rational and process-orientated you may be, strange and irrational things can happen in football. Van Gaal's comments have some level of truth, but sadly, last night, they were spectacularly undermined. Van Gaal ended with the line:
But I am not like that. I am very arrogant. I am one of the best managers of the world
As disappointing as this year's speech as opposed to last year's, that is quite a strong closing line.