Louis van Gaal’s Manchester United reign is in danger of being known more for his eccentricity, Spurs have a right feel aggrieved by Sky’s scheduling, while Watford’s owners should be careful what they wish for.
LVG antics cause a stir – but let’s embrace Dutchman’s daftness
Regardless of FA Cup final success this month or not, there’s little doubting Louis van Gaal’s spell as Manchester United boss will largely be classed as a failure when he’s eventually removed from the job.
Be it this summer, as expected, or next summer, when his contract expires, the Iron Tulip’s spell at Old Trafford hasn’t quite gone as expected given the expectations he arrived with, together with the lavish sums of cash he has spent.
In fact, the Dutchman is in serious ‘danger’ of his spell at United being remembered for his eccentricity as much as anything else. Questionable tactics is one thing (Ashley Young as a lone striker anyone?), but first the theatrical dive on the touchline against Arsenal, and now talk of sex masochism live to the nation in his after-match interview with Leicester has been seen by some as hitting a new low.
But let’s not give Van Gaal too hard a time over this (no pun intended!). Yes, it probably wasn’t suitable for a pre-watershed audience, and yes, Van Gaal was showing a side to his character that will give us all nightmares if we think about it for too long. Most of all though, Van Gaal was simply being Dutch!
Back in the day, Van Gaal’s comments would likely have been met with an FA charge for ‘bringing the game into disrepute’. The grey suits at the old Lancaster Gate would have been far from impressed.
In fact, rather than chastise Louis, the United boss should be applauded for showing us another side.
Flamboyancy. Eccentricity. Daftness. The Premier League has always liked its characters, and to finally see some personality – other than his obtrusiveness – come out of the Dutchman makes a pleasant, if unexpected, change.
Spurs should be angry at Sky’s scheduling
So Monday night will possibly see Leicester crowned as the Premier League’s most unlikely champions of all time. Certainly the media will have you believe that their achievements rank as the best sporting moment ever. Their coronation will be complete should Spurs fail to win at Chelsea – which would be far from a shock given their record at Stamford Bridge over the years (their last win at the Bridge was in 1989).
It’s probably not how Sky envisioned it when they scheduled every remaining Leicester, Tottenham, Manchester City and Arsenal game back in February as part of their TITLE RUN IN – EVERY MATCH LIVE.
Obviously no one could foresee Arsenal and City limping so badly out the race at such an early stage – and seeing the champions crowned on the back of one of their rivals’ defeats is not what they’d have wanted either. Yes, it’s easy with the benefit of hindsight, and for that, Sky cannot be reasonably apportioned blame.
However, I do believe Spurs – on tonight for a third Monday in a row and constantly playing catch-up with Leicester City – do have the right to feel aggrieved. Had the scheduling meant it was Spurs playing first and Leicester second, might we have seen a different outcome this season? Hypothetical perhaps, but Mauricio Pochettino’s men have never once had the chance to put the pressure on Leicester – it’s always been about them trying to close the gap the Foxes had opened up.
Tottenham, of course, have sportingly insisted they’ve had no issues playing on a Monday and trying to close the gap, but I do wonder if behind closed doors, there’s a feeling at Spurs about ‘what if’.
Of course, Spurs might yet win at Stamford Bridge and extend the title race by another week (as well as giving Sky the chance to screen Leicester’s coronation live on Sky this Saturday tea time), but when all is said and done, I do think the TV scheduling has aided Leicester’s cause, rather than Spurs’.
Bonkers to see Quique Sanchez Flores under pressure at Watford
I wasn’t surprised to read Watford started the 2015/16 season as second favourites for relegation (behind Bournemouth), but what is shocking to see is that Watford’s owners are considering replacing Quique Sanchez Flores as manager at the end of the season.
Watford have quietly gone about their business this season, and having never once been in relegation danger, the Spaniard deserves an enormous amount of credit for the job he has done.
Yes, their form has dropped off since the turn of the year – and yes, their record at home is sixth worst in the division. But reaching the FA Cup semi-finals and being within sight of a mid-table finish means Watford’s campaign has massively exceeded expectations. And if anything, Watford’s form in the first half of the season only means that Flores’ future is now coming under the spotlight.
Should Flores end up leaving Watford, I’m sure there’ll be no shortage of offers coming the Spaniard’s way.
A victim of his own success (?) – yes.
Be careful what you wish for – definitely.
By James Marshment