Manchester United manager Louis Van Gaal needs to be given more time so that the club can reap the rewards of allowing him to develop his own ideas, former United goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel said on Tuesday.
Speaking at a news conference in Belgrade, Schmeichel defended Van Gaal’s style, which has been criticised by many fans and pundits as boring.
“When we picked someone like Louis Van Gaal, who has a very big ego and personality, we also picked his way of playing football,” said the popular Dane, who won five Premier League titles, three FA Cups and the 1999 Champions League with United.
“It is clear that for a certain period of time, while he is rebuilding the team, we have to accept playing in a certain way which perhaps isn’t the Manchester United way.
“The objective of Van Gaal’s first season in charge was to get back into the Champions League and he achieved that. This season, the goal was to do better and the team are doing better.
“Although the fans keep asking the team to attack, attack, attack, they understand that they need to give Van Gaal time.”
Schmeichel was speaking at an event to mark the second anniversary of United’s partnership with Eurobank Serbia ahead of United’s crunch Champions League game against German side VfL Wolfsburg on Tuesday.
“Not being in the Champions League last season was very hurtful, as it’s a massive incentive for this club to always be among the best in the world,” he said.
United, who are fourth in the Premier League, three points behind surprise leaders Leicester City, missed out on Europe’s premier club competition last term after finishing seventh in 2014 under David Moyes.
Still cutting the imposing figure that bossed the penalty area during his 1991-1999 spell at United, the 52-year old pointed to United’s dramatic 2-1 win over Bayern Munich in the 1999 Champions League final as an example of their character.
United were 1-0 down heading into stoppage time and scored two goals in 90 seconds, producing arguably the most astonishing ever twist to a European final.
“We knew we had three minutes to change the game, we threw caution to the wind and that was the way we played football with our backs against the wall,” Schmeichel said.
“We got results in many of those games and after beating Bayern, it took us a week to realise the magnitude of our achievement.”
Schmeichel emphasised the enormity of the task United faced when Alex Ferguson, who steered the club to 13 league titles, five FA Cups and two Champions League trophies, retired in 2013 after 27 years as manager.
“Ferguson’s interaction with individuals was his priority. He made it his mission to understand each and every person he worked with, whether they were players or staff,” he said.
“He always knew what buttons to push to get the maximum out of every individual.
“Also, he always understood the big picture.
“During his 27 years in charge, the world kept changing and while he was part of the reason world football had changed, he had the unique ability to adapt to all changes.”