Why has van Gaal abandoned a successful formula?

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 He tried it once, it was remarkably successful and yet he hasn’t used it again, amazing!
Instead he has resorted to boring football whereby the fans, the ones who are still awake at least, have taken to calling him nasty names and wanting him to find alternative employment. Is this what it has come to?This is how it all came about.Aloysius Paulus Maria van Gaal fancied a shorter, more memorable monicker. He decided that what he needed to do, quite wisely, was to drop the Maria bit, not advertise too much the Paulus bit and shorten the Aloysius bit to Louis. Thus the transformation to Louis van Gaal was complete and so began his success.

Wholesale changes hadn’t been required here. This was not a case of being christened Marion, for example. Any male christened Marion should immediately, (or as soon as they are old enough, at least), change his name to John. Why he should then feel the need to change his surname from Morrison to Wayne is beyond me, but it worked out OK for him..

So obviously, the thing to do to ensure success at Manchester United was to try the name change method with his players.

The guinea-pig, it was decided, would be Chris Smalling.

Louis had deemed the name “Chris” to be ambiguous and more suitable for a girl, not a rugged centre back who plays for Manchester United and England. So, from now on, he was to be known as Mike.

If the truth be known, this experiment had been underway for quite a while. Indeed van Gaal trialled it at a press conference on the pre-season tour, but, when he referred to Smalling as “Mike”, everybody just thought he was an ageing manager with a terrible memory for names.

The fact that they have one of the best defensive records in the division is down, in no small way, to Mike Smalling. Yes, De Gea has helped, as usual, but it has been mainly through the efforts of Mike that this proud boast can be made.

So why has he now stopped? Just when everything was going so well, he capitulated and left the rest of the players with their own names! How can he expect to be successful like that?

Since reverting to type, United have gone out of the Capital One Cup and out of the Champions League. He needs to start renaming players and quickly.

If this is to happen then any new players signed by United will have to agree, contractually, to Louis being allowed to give them a new name of his choice, (usually Mike), should he think that it will be of benefit to the team. This is because, with the exception of continually selecting Wayne Rooney, everything Louis does is for the team, which is forever more important than ANY individual, (except Rooney).

Not only will this make United a shoe-in for the title but it will also mean that van Gaal will never again get a player’s name wrong, not that he did before.

So, assuming the unmitigated success of this process, (or is it a philosophy?), next year expect Mike Smalling to be playing in front of Mike De Gea and alongside Mike Blind and Mike Rojo. In front of him will be the likes of Mike Mata and Mike Schweinsteiger with Mike Herrera and Mike Depay vying for places in a packed midfield.

There will be two problems that van Gaal will face and that he needs to overcome. One is that Carrick is already called Mike, so it won’t work for him and may even destroy the collective bond the rest of the team will have built up through all being called Mike.

Carrick will need to be known as “John”. This is the only way the equilibrium of the team can be maintained.

In fairness to Aloysius and Chris, this renaming process was producing results. Louis van Gaal’s team rose to fourth in the Premier league table, only four points off the lead and they have one of the best defensive records in the division.

The other problem is Wayne Rooney. I have watched his decline for the last three seasons or more and changing his name, even if it’s to Cristiano Ronaldo Quiz or Lionel Messi, just will not work. He’s gone too far past redemption for something as simple as a name change to make any difference.

Iain Anderson