By J Hutcherson - WASHINGTON, DC (May 20, 2014) US Soccer Players – If two things ever go hand-in-hand in soccer, it's world class coach and giant budget. That's the scenario shaping up for Manchester United. The answer to the recently concluded Premier League season's problems is Luis van Gaal and a massive stack of cash. This runs alongside the reports putting a hefty price tag on parting ways with the last manager and missing out on Europe in 2013-14.
That's particularly worth remembering with Manchester United. Regardless of the size of the budget, any marquee player signing up for van Gaal season one is sacrificing European soccer. That's no small thing for any player, giving up a season of eligibility for the sport's biggest club prize. We're not talking about old hands staying with their club. We're talking about new signings deciding Manchester United is worth it in 2014-15.
van Gaal and his new bosses certainly think so. In the official confirmation of what's been a locked in rumor for weeks, Manchester United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward said: "In Louis van Gaal, we have secured the services of one of the outstanding managers in the game today. He has achieved many things in his career to date and Old Trafford provides him with a fitting stage on which to write new chapters in the Manchester United story."
For van Gaal's part, he made no effort to lessen the hype surrounding his appointment.
“This club has big ambitions. I too have big ambitions,” he said. “Together I’m sure we will make history.... To work as a manager for Manchester United, the biggest club in the world, makes me very proud."
It's tough to exaggerate what van Gaal offers, but credit Manchester United for trying. They're right, of course. van Gaal brings a pedigree that's limited to a handful of coaches currently working in soccer. What this does for United is return them to what they had with Alex Ferguson. There's no questioning the ability of this manager. The English media has already moved on to wondering how he'll get along with this version of media scrutiny while we watch youtube clips of how he's handled the press in the world's other elite soccer leagues.
What van Gaal did in the Eredivisie, La Liga, the Eredivisie again, and in the Bundesliga was win the title. That's the first goal for United's revamp, especially since it's the biggest trophy they can win in 2014-15. It's the no European competition problem turning the Premier League into even more of an all or nothing scenario.
Make no mistake, there's plenty of room for failure here. Manchester United's choice of hire and their money puts them in good shape to recover, but it's not a direct connection until we see who wants to play.
United as it stands is a problem. With a successful transfer window, he has the opportunity to rebuild a team. We should all credit United for a willingness to spend. This isn't the kind of scenario that benefits from their coach talking about building his team two transfer windows from now. There's no time here. 2014-15 is about getting back into the Champions League preferably by winning the Premier League title. It's not about navigating crises and hoping for a last grasp European place next May. They could've done that with significantly cheaper options.
This is about meeting a set of expectations that all those successful seasons created. There are maybe half a dozen club coaches who can handle that scenario, and United hired one of them. With all respect to Luis van Gaal, he's filling a role right now. The expectations are so high, even nominal success might not be enough. He has to meet basic expectations that would destroy other soccer coaches. What makes this special for the rest of us is he knows that already.
J Hutcherson started covering soccer in 1999 and has worked as the general manager of the US National Soccer Team Players Association since 2002. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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