(Rasputin would have been proud of Louis’ survival instincts!)

Grigory Efimovich Rasputin was a Russian peasant, known as the “Mad Monk”, although he only spent three months in a monastery. He claimed he had powers of mystic healing and prediction. Using these powers he somehow contrived to heal the Royal family’s son of haemophilia. This elevated him into being accepted by Tsar Nicholas II and his wife Tsarina Aleksandra as, after four girls, this was their only son and heir who’s life he had saved.

The problem was that it made the other high-powered natives restless. They thought that Rasputin was using his new found influence to run Russia as the Tsarina was a really big fan and hung onto his every word. So they decided to do what was always decided to do back then, they decided to get rid of him.

After poisoning him with potassium cyanide, shooting him three times, (once in the head hitting the brain, once in the chest hitting the stomach and liver and once in the back hitting the kidneys), and beating him with a 2lb dumbell they finally managed to kill him by tying him up and throwing him over a bridge into the nearby river. Even then he only died because the river froze over him while he was unconscious, as they didn’t bother to weigh him down with anything!

2016 will be the one hundredth anniversary of his death so it seems only fitting to say a few words about the reincarnated version of Rasputin, namely Aloysius Paulus Maria van Gaal.

Judging by his name I doubt he had the same peasant beginnings as Rasputin but there are similarities afterwards.

He is another who claims to have magical powers and holds secrets to tactical movements and changes which are a mystery to everybody else, including his own players. He is a radical thinker who does most of his thinking “out of the box”. Most people would prefer if he got back in the box and closed the lid but that isn’t going to happen just yet.

He saved Manchester United’s only son, Wayne Rooney, by giving him the captaincy and continuing to pick him for the team even when he was the worst player on the pitch, not just in the United team. The payback for this is that Rooney is now the club’s leading scorer this season with a remarkable SIX goals in only nineteen Premier League games!

It’s just a pity that van Gaal’s mystic healing powers don’t appear to work on the ten or so players he has currently undergoing some form of treatment from United’s resident witch doctor.

This amazing feat with Rooney has made van Gaal a favourite with Tsar Ed Woodward, who will hear nothing bad said about him. He lavished him with money to waste on average players who, with the magical touch of Mad Monk Louis, managed to propel United out of the Champion’s League at the first hurdle, then out of the Capital One Cup to a Championship team, (at Old Trafford!), and finally down the table to fifth so they can have another shot at the Europa League next season.

Of course, when you have the ear of the top man there will be jealousy. With van Gaal it comes in the form of the press and the fans. Neither have resorted to poisoning, shooting, pummelling or drowning as yet but there have been several occasions on which the two had hoped he was gone.

The equivalent to the poison was when he was reportedly given two days to save his job, by the press, back in December. He failed in their requirement of him but kept his job.

Then came the shooting. In January he was given another two games to save his job. He saved his job but didn’t win either of the two games! Work that one out if you can!

Next is the pummelling with the 2lb dumbell, which comes in the form of a warning from the press that he is being judged on a game-by-game basis. So, if he loses to Derby County in the FA Cup can we expect to see him go? Well, the pummelling didn’t do for Rasputin so it probably won’t do for van Gaal either.

We shall see, but I do get the impression that van Gaal won’t survive many more poor results and, like Rasputin, he will eventually be thrown into the river, metaphorically speaking, of course. His powers of prediction would mean that he is already aware of his fate so it will come as no surprise to him.


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