Monday Verdict: LVG disgrace, Wenger hypocrisy, Terry to stay

Date published: Monday 8th February 2016 7:40

Louis van Gaal: Nothing bizarre about his comments

Louis van Gaal: Nothing bizarre about his comments

There was nothing ‘bizarre’ about what Louis van Gaal said to the media on journalist, writes Mark Holmes, who also offers thoughts on Arsene Wenger and John Terry.


According to both the Daily Mail and Daily Star, Louis van Gaal had a ‘bizarre rant’ after Manchester United’s draw at Chelsea.

The full transcript can be read here, but the question which led to the exchange went as follows: ‘Although you dropped points, the performances are improving. Do you think that’s important as the club is trying to replace you, the fact you’re trying to put in the performances which show you might have a value to the club?’

Note the words ‘as the club is trying to replace you’. Said in such a matter of fact way, as though nobody, not even Van Gaal, could possibly dispute the fact that United want to sack him. But as the Dutchman pointed out on Friday, it would not be the first occasion the press had got it wrong if stories that Jose Mourinho has already held talks about taking over at Old Trafford are proven to be false.

Remember when he had two games to save his job? United took only two points from those games, at Stoke City and against Chelsea, yet Van Gaal remained in place. Remember when he was about to quit in January after a defeat to Southampton?

Despite clearly receiving assurances from the United hierarchy that his job is not under threat, Van Gaal has had to deal with almost constant suggestions from the press over the past four months that he would soon be out of work.

Then, after another decent performance at Chelsea on Sunday, the 64-year-old again faced a question about United trying to replace him. ‘Well, the club aren’t denying it,’ said the journalist.

This is the sort of nonsense Van Gaal is having to deal with on an almost weekly basis, yet despite responding in a perfectly reasonable manner he is accused of going on a ‘bizarre rant’. The Daily Mirror’s back page even refers to him as ‘Mr Angry’.

Van Gaal clearly hasn’t done as good a job as he would have hoped this season, but the treatment of him by the media has been nothing short of a disgrace.

If only he were British…


There is not a football manager in a world that is not a hypocrite. We all know that.

But Arsene Wenger, a manager that has been so outspoken about the need for players to consider their opponents when going into tackles, really should have thought twice before defending Mathieu Flamini’s two-footed lunge on Sunday.

The Arsenal boss was certainly right to say that Flamini had gone for the ball and not Gosling, but to offer that as a defence suggests he believes the same cannot be said of every player. Yet there isn’t a professional footballer out there that makes a challenge with the intention of playing anything other than the ball. Such players simply don’t exist today.

In Flamini’s defence, he actually won the ball, but that is irrelevant according to today’s rules: ‘Any player who lunges at an opponent in challenging for the ball from the front, from the side or from behind, using one or both legs, with excessive force and endangering the safety of an opponent is guilty of serious foul play.’

Wenger himself had this to say on two-footed lunges back in 2013: “For me, the tackle facing the player is one leg on the ground, and the other leg is bent, where you can see that you give a pass when you intercept the ball – the guy that jumps in with two legs doesn’t know where he finishes.”

Yet, discussing a red card shown to Flamini for – you guessed it – a two-footed lunge tackle in 2014, Wenger offered a different view: “To me it looked harsh. He got the ball. At some stage we all have all the feet off the ground.

“If you say every time a guy makes two-footed tackle its red, he deserved a red. If you say it was a violent tackle, I would say no.”

It was the line Wenger went down again after Flamini’s challenge on Sunday, with the Gunners boss even suggesting the free-kick could have gone the other way.

Nobody would have paid much attention to a similar comment by another manager, but if Wenger has campaigned against dangerous tackles for years and has made it clear on several occasions that he expects his players to show restraint in not endangering the safety of opponents when challenging for the ball.

By condoning another Flamini lunge, Wenger has proven, not for the first time, he is not as high up that moral ground as he would have you believe.

“If they jump in they [can] completely destroy an opponent” – Arsene Wenger.


Prediction: John Terry will still be a Chelsea player come the start of next season.

The media have lapped up Terry’s claim that he is “not going to retire at Chelsea”, but the club themselves have made it clear that the 35-year-old could yet be offered a new contract should the new manager want to keep him at Stamford Bridge.

And, let’s be honest, he probably will. After all, what better way to get the fans on side by tying down the captain, leader and legend in your first major act at Chelsea.

There is an argument to say the Blues should take the decision out of the new man’s hands by signing up Terry to a new deal before making any appointment, but it is also not too hard to understand their thinking in wanting to let the new boss make a decision on a player that may not fit into his preferred style of play.

What happens if the new man wants to play a high line, for example? Terry would then risk a season either out of the team or in it and struggling, as he did in the brief Andre Villas-Boas era. Even without considering the possibility that a new manager might prefer not to have the long-standing influence of Terry in the dressing room, leaving the decision on his future on the back burner makes perfect sense.

A cynic might suggest Terry’s public statement was a ploy to pressure the club into giving him a new deal, either before or after the appointment of a new manager, but the likelihood is that such tactics were not required.

Terry is not the perfect player and at 35 his best years are clearly behind rather than ahead of him, but it would take a weak manager to want him gone for fear of his influence – and a poor one not to realise the former England captain does not still have something to offer the Blues.

Nobody seems to be even considering the possibility, but anyone looking to make a bit of money would do well to have a flutter on Terry still being at Stamford Bridge come August.

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Home Forums Monday Verdict: LVG disgrace, Wenger hypocrisy, Terry to stay

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    Mark Holmes

    There was nothing ‘bizarre’ about what Louis van Gaal said to the media on journalist – plus thoughts on Arsene Wenger and John Terry.

    [See the full post at: Monday Verdict: LVG disgrace, Wenger hypocrisy, Terry to stay]



    I don’t think the media alone can take the blame for the treatment of Van Gaal. Yes the question was out of order, but lets face it, if LVG had to answer questions from actual man utd fans after the games, he would receive far worse than what journalists throw at him. The problem man utd have is that their fans are too impatient, wont allow anybody any time to get it right, and have been spoilt the last 20 years with success, that to go without it seems unjust. Even the older fans wont really remember what it was like to go without, it was over 20 years ago.


    I thought it was a stupid challenge, there was no need for it and he could have kicked the ball away by staying on his feet. His one saving grace was that it occurred relatively early on in the game. That would have been a 100% red in the second half.

    Now to Wenger, I think you’re right in saying he was being a bit of a hypocrite. But lets add some context to the situation, i think he couldn’t bring himself to slate one of his players, especially after finally getting through our winless run of four games.

    Confidence is still fragile at Arsenal so maybe he was right to back his player in this instance, and i mean right in regards to our title fight but wrong in regards to the battle against dangerous play.

    Also, lets not ignore the mischievous journalist asking the questions, s/he knew full well that wenger’s response would likely help to generate some headlines. And it’s true they did, as seen here on yesterday with Team Talk producing an article to cover his response.

    Final point, with the fragility of some of today’s sports stars i think we can no longer hold managers at face value anymore, gone are the days of saying it how it is. Maybe we all need to learn how to read between the lines in order to be able to contextualise statements.

    I’m pretty sure if we had the league wrapped up in the last game of the season and Flamini did a similar foul, it wouldn’t be met with such staunch defence.



    Fair point on all counts.

    LVG, although not setting the world alight, has done a steady job this season, albeit with a lot of luck. Its the whole Mourinho effect. The wording ‘as the club is trying to replace you’ is so disrespectful with no evidence to support this apart from speculation. I think he handled it well.

    I missed the Flamini tackle originally as I was out and about and at the end of the game I thought the media were probably making a mountain out of a molehill. However, it was definitely a red card, and Wenger was completely wrong when saying it was harsh!

    And John Terry will be offered a new contract at Chelsea. Its the perfect PR for the new manager. Whether he accepts it or not is another matter, he might already have one eye on joining Ashley Cole on the beaches….



    I am not surprised Wenger has defended Flamini because he really baulks at any kind of criticism of his own players. He has moved on slightly from “I didn’t see it” but the sentiment is the same.

    Personally I feel there are very few footballers who are as unpleasant as Flamini. He has a history of two-footed tackles and even went as far as to celebrate after breaking Vedran Corluka’s leg with a similar over the top challenge a few years ago while at Milan.

    Any footballer who behaves like that does not deserve to be protected by his manager, teammates or fans.



    D1rtyH4rry: I disagree with the impatience. A great deal of United fans were against the sacking of Moyes. Many felt he was out of his depth, but many also felt he deserved the time to put it right, given the enormous task at hand – replacing Fergie.

    LvG on the other hand, whilst has done a fairly steady job and put right a lot of wrong, he has severely under-achieved, and I think it’s fair for United fans to question where the club is heading under his lead. Every other week, it’s a different style of play, a different shape, a few players out of position, bizarre substitutions, in-form players dropped whilst poor players are persevered with. The amount of money spent makes this HIS team. He can no longer blame imbalance. So where is HIS team going? What more can LvG offer the team? 18+ months down the line, is there going to be a moment where it just clicks? That happened last season. We settled into a standard 4-3-3, played our best players in their best positions and went on a good run. Even in the games we didn’t win, it looked like we were on the right path Then in the summer, the reset button was pressed. That 4-3-3 was binned, and we’ve not come close to replicating that form this season. We play a different way, scared to attack, scared to lose the ball. Why did he scrap a good thing? Why have we reverted to something that isn’t working?

    I don’t think it comes down to impatience. I think time is time. LvG has spent a lot of money, and in 18 months he still doesn’t know his best team or formation. He started at the same time as Pochettino at Spurs, yet Poch has got his house in order, and did so quickly. LvG is not even a fraction at the same level as Poch in terms of having his team organised.

    You also have to take in to account the circumstances of our rivals. Liverpool now have Klopp and City will soon have Guardiola. Two of the best managers around. We have LvG and he is leaving next summer at the absolute latest for his retirement, so we need a plan either now or next summer. To stay in contention, we need an elite manager. It’s not the time to experiment with Giggs. I don’t like Mourinho, but he is in the same bracket as Guardiola, and probably the only manager of that calibre available. Mourinho is also currently unemployed. again, it’s not about impatience. It’s about having a plan. United have a big decision to make, and would look foolish if they let Mourinho slip away to stand by LvG who is retiring in 18 months anyway.



    Evratime: I did take the time to write you a response (twice), however it kept saying error logging in, and I can now not be bothered to write it a 3rd time. Apologies, and I appreciated your initial response. How lame if this now makes it through.



    I rarely defend managers these days, i cant defend LVGs performances.

    What I can defend him is this out burst. I’ve been saying for a while that his treatment by the press has been ridiculously disgusting to the point the press are not even doing their job. They are purposely pushing for a reaction, not asking questions not even the uncomfortable ones. The press are beyond a joke and always have been.

    If he was english.. well… i think only thing left is for them to pull a gun to his head.

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