Manchester United Are Stuck In A Moment They Can't Get Out Of And Have Gone Nowhere Under LVG


Searching for a soundtrack to Manchester United's predicament thoughts naturally turn to the misery of Morrissey, but as it happens the most apt lyrics are the property of veteran stadium rockers U2.

Don't say that later will be better

Now you're stuck in a moment

And you can't get out of it

That's exactly where United are right now - stuck in a moment they can't get out of.

United's besieged manager Louis van Gaal keeps telling fans later will be better, but nobody believes him. It's a truth to be universally accepted that his United team are as bad now than any time since the Dutchman was hired in 2014.

Executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward is also stuck in a moment. He hired Van Gaal, and he can't shake the possibility it may still prove the right decision. Meanwhile, United - the club Woodward so expertly marketed to the world - have fallen bereft of the very commodities they built their fortune on, entertainment and success.

There are many factors that have brought the club to this point, so we'll start with the most relevant - the idea that Woodward's masterplan was always to have Van Gaal usher in the era of Ryan Giggs.

The more you read, the more you wonder if this was the blueprint. What better explanation could there be for the lingering of Van Gaal, than the notion his purpose was never as United's saviour in the first place, but as a bridge to a new era?

Think of Van Gaal as a supporting actor in United's grand attempt to crown Sir Alex Part II, and maybe you have the reason he's still in a job.

If Giggs remains the end goal, what then should United and Woodward do now? If they sack Van Gaal, the two options become handing a struggling squad to a novice manager, or somehow finding another interim wise old owl who'd be willing to mentor him.

The latter seems a stretch - both in terms of finding a qualified manager willing to stake his reputation on a stop-gap job, and also in convincing Giggs that he needs another teacher on his way to the big seat. At that point you wonder if Giggs might just walk away from his apprenticeship to get a big boy's job elsewhere.

As for Giggs coming in now, Woodward could be teeing him up for a baptism of fire. Time is running out in the January window and that would mean Giggs taking on the very same squad that has failed Van Gaal.

A new manager can galvanise and inspire, of that there can be no doubt. But United's problems are not purely tactical, and even if there were, is Giggs really the man to solve them? Or might Woodward be cursing his chosen one by giving Giggs the job too early, and with too much left to done.

Giggs himself might even have reservations looking at the squad as it is. Maybe he feels strongly that the time to start is with a summer transfer window and maybe Woodward agrees with him.

If that's the thinking, then it becomes easier to make sense of Woodward resisting the temptation to fire Van Gaal. Better for United to fail in the hands of a manager who's leaving, than one marked out to take the club forward.

For now Giggs remains quietly in place. In time we'll learn his true feelings for Van Gaal, that much is inevitable, but for now he sits like a polite interviewee in the Old Trafford waiting room. Only a fool would speak out with the possibility of the job he covets most becoming more real by the hour.

If not Giggs, then who?

For all the talk of Pep Guardiola going to Manchester City, are we to completely rule out the possibility he could be seduced? Those with an inside line seem to think we should.

As for Jose Mourinho, it seems his only hope may be a United so broken and so desperate they have no other corridors to walk down than his. That moment may be coming soon if United to fall to Derby in the FA Cup, or fail to beat Stoke at Old Trafford next week.

One name rising up the ranks of possibilities of that of Mauricio Pochettino, who has assembled a dynamic and highly entertaining team at Tottenham, and appears to have a philosophy that might fit neatly with what United fans want to see from their team.

For now, however, Van Gaal remains in a job. Woodward's patience withstands and the best explanation for that is the looming coronation of Giggs at Old Trafford.

Eventually something will have to give, but for now United are stuck in a moment and there seems no way Van Gaal can get them out of it.

Soon enough it will be Woodward's move, and unless Guardiola is turned that may mean Giggs as the next United manager - a full season before they hoped he'd be ready.