United boss' shortcomings

Not embracing the United way

The combination of a dire, regressive style of play and dismal results is toxic. Van Gaal's insistence on playing two defensive midfielders, who are not allowed to get beyond the ball, runs counter to all that the club stand for.

Shambolic signings

His record in the transfer market has been woeful. He was unable to manage the only world-class player he signed - Angel di Maria - who was then sold.

Ignoring players' concerns

Had van Gaal made changes when senior players went to him at the start of the season, United may not have been in this position. It was not until Christmas that he softened his stance.

Too much change too quickly

Thirteen players arrived and almost 30 departed. The speed of change has been too great.

Square pegs in round holes

Saturday's 0-1 loss to Southampton was a case in point. Matteo Darmian as a centre-half? Jesse Lingard and Cameron Borthwick-Jackson as wing-backs? Wayne Rooney as a left winger? Van Gaal is not playing his men to their strengths.

THE TIMES, LONDON

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 26, 2016, with the headline 'United boss' shortcomings'. Print Edition | Subscribe