Eye On EPL

Van Gaal's fortunes linked to effect of Mourinho's sacking

Nowadays, managing a big English Premier League football club is riskier than parachuting.

Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal has seen what happened at Chelsea, which must have created a sense of doom as far as he is concerned.

To make matters worse, United were shocked 2-1 by unfancied Norwich City at home - their third consecutive loss - over the weekend, which surely must have added fuel to the rumours that their manager will follow Jose Mourinho out of the door soon.

Once people start talking and reports start to appear in the newspapers, the speculation will somehow come true. Just look at what happened to Mourinho. His dismissal surprised no one, for everyone had been talking about it for months.

But I felt sorry for Mourinho because he did a great job at Stamford Bridge by lifting the title last season. It is true that his team did not play well this season and perhaps he had gone a bit too far in his public criticism of his players and his outbursts at club doctor Eva Carneiro.

Coaches are now expected to come in and in one year, they must produce immediate results like winning the EPL. So clubs have revolving doors, when managers enter and exit hastily, it's like changing a pair of socks.

But the club's dismal showing this season cannot be blamed entirely on the manager. Players, rather than the coach, have to perform on the pitch. In Chelsea's case, the players were not performing well, and in the end, it was the coach who paid the price.

The same can be said for United. Currently fifth in the standings, they are not doing that badly. But because their football does not please the fans and new signings Anthony Martial and Memphis Depay have been letting their manager down, fans are booing van Gaal and calling for his head.

The Dutchman is just counting down the days and he desperately needs to turn things around by winning his side's next two matches against Stoke City and Chelsea before the end of the year.

Yet, it is difficult to see him keeping his job. I feel he should be given more time and respect as a manager to build a club. But it is difficult because nowadays, clubs prefer an instant fix.

Coaches are now expected to come in and in one year, they must produce immediate results like winning the EPL. So clubs have revolving doors and when managers enter and exit hastily, it's like changing a pair of socks.

This is not always fair on coaches.

I feel sorry for Manchester City's manager Manuel Pellegrini too, who has never quite earned the full support of the club since he joined in 2013.

Despite winning the EPL and the League Cup that season, it was not enough to endear him to the club's board. His spot has always been heavily linked to Pep Guardiola, who will leave Bayern Munich at the end of the season.

It is a period of uncertainty for these big names, with talk of potential switches and speculation about who is going where.

I am confident that Mourinho will not remain out of a job for long. He will take a Christmas break and by the start of the new year, he will be at a new club.

It is easy to predict where these big names will go. Mourinho may go to Real Madrid, United or City, and Pellegrini might end up at Chelsea.

Big names will move from big club to big club. It is one big circle.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 22, 2015, with the headline 'Van Gaal's fortunes linked to effect of Mourinho's sacking'. Print Edition | Subscribe