Louis Van Gaal didn’t get where he is today by giving a damn. He did by doing whatever it takes.
And he doesn’t give a damn about the League Cup.
That much was clear when he was seen signing autographs in the wake of his Manchester United sides 4-0 defeat at MK Dons earlier this week, an act that saw him castigated by BBC Radio Five Live pundit Steve Claridge. However, far from showing a lack of respect for both his club and the result in doing so, Van Gaal was, very publicly, showing it for the competition itself and how he regarded it.
An inconvenience that needed to be put to one side as soon as possible.
Job done then.
Van Gaal hasn’t taken the job at Old Trafford to make friends and put smiles on faces. He’s taken it because he is one of the very few Managers in world football strong enough for the challenge in hand, one that Sir Alex Ferguson felt he couldn’t do whilst his chosen successor, David Moyes seemingly didn’t realise the scale of the task Ferguson chose to bequeath him.
It would appear that both the media and the clubs fans are now catching on to what both Ferguson knew and Moyes eventually realised.
That Manchester United need a hard bastard at the helm who isn’t afraid to hurt people, one who will shrug off the inevitable criticism and insults that will come his way as he starts to put things right on and off the pitch.
What now, you wonder, would Manchester United give for a Bryan Robson or Roy Keane right now? More, you suspect, than they have paid for Real Madrid winger Angel Di Maria, who freely admitted, post-signing, that he hadn’t wanted to leave the Bernabéu in the first place.
A quote that will not necessarily endear Di Maria to his new teammates straight away. He has a lot of work to do to prove himself now-and just to demonstrate he has the right character, the cojones for the challenge ahead.
Van Gaal, on the other hand, doesn’t need to prove anything to anyone, his managerial CV there for anyone to see. And that includes a Champions League success, the coaching hallmark that separates the very good from the elite.
He’ll be expected to win his second Champions League during his time at Old Trafford, make no mistake about that.
But he won’t do that until he has his players doing it his way. And, right now he doesn’t have the players to do that and the simple reason for that is that most of them are not good enough.
Van Gaal, on the other hand, is more than good enough to put things right. He’s a serial winner and will do whatever it takes.
And if a very public humiliation at the hands of a League One team helps him to do that he’ll see that defeat as the first step on the long path that ends with another Champions League medal.