Manchester United: Do results trump style?

On the face of it there isn’t much to complain about for Manchester United fans, with the club currently sitting third in the league standings and with a spot in the FA Cup quarter-finals secured. However, the grumbles of discontent around Old Trafford are only growing louder.

The first seven months of Louis van Gaal’s reign have been an interesting period in the Red Devils’ history. With the much-maligned David Moyes having been given the boot in the latter stages of the 2013/14 campaign, much was expect of his experienced, successful replacement. While results have improved, many United fans aren’t much happier.

The opening month of the current campaign produced some horror results for Van Gaal, with the Dutchman opening up his account with defeat to Swansea and MK Dons, with draws to Sunderland and Burnley scattered in between.

Results improved as the year progressed, and the inconsistency of United’s rivals meant that they never fell too far off the top four pace, and so as the wins started to flow they easily climbed into the top six.

But it was hard to get too excited about United’s play – or Van Gaal’s management.

Van Gaal’s tactical stubbornness, his desire to fit players into a system rather than find a system that suits the players he has seen Gary Neville compare United with a pub football side, while Paul Scholes labelled United’s style of play ‘miserable’.

For many fans it seems obvious that the Falcao/Van Persie partnership is not working and needs to be changed, while the improvement when United switch to a 4-4-2 and make use of their wingers is clear for all, accept Van Gaal, to see.

However, love or hate Van Gaal’s tactics and the way United are playing, there is one thing that you can’t escape: positive results. United have lost just once in their last 19 games in all competitions, a sequence of results that many teams would envy. United are on track to return to Europe, with Champions League qualification certainly within reach, while a cup trophy is still in the equation.

And so, when all is said and done, what is more important to United fans, winning or playing ‘the United way’?

James Ho

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