Theo Spierings: The Louis van Gaal of dairy

Some eerie parallels. 
Van Gaal: out of ideas

Over the weekend, Manchester United finally confirmed rumours that Portuguese Jose Mourinho was replacing Dutchman Louis van Gaal.

At the same time, rumours emerged that another Netherlands expatriate, Fonterra boss Theo Spierings, is on the way out.

It's hard not to draw distinctions between the two men, beyond the obvious one about their nationality, and that both were parachuted in to help organisations under pressure.

Both have awkward bearing but are total self-confident in their own skills, and are not in any way nervous on the media stage. Yet both are lousy communicators.

And both have actually produced pretty good results. Although its payout forecasts disappointed farmers, Fonterra's half-year profit was up.

And, despite terrible luck with injuries, Mr van Gaal took Manchester United to fifth place in the Premier League won the FA Cup.

But he did so in plodding, dull fashion, relying on the tactics of yesteryear in a league that had moved to a fast-paced, high-pressing game – personified by the top-of-the-table Leicester and Spurs. He seemed to be no solution for the present let alone a vision for the future, and how to deal with the changing game. The same could be said of Mr Spierings at Fonterra, whose company is mired in commodity milk powder when it needs to get more agile, and move up the value chain.

Toward the end of his tenure, Mr van Gaal's efforts to reassert himself were constantly undermined by rumours that Manchester United shareholders, directors and players preferred Mr Mourinho. With Fonterra, Christopher Luxon has emerged as the Mourinho figure or "Special One."

The Guardian called Mr van Gaal the right man in the right place at the wrong time. The same could be said of Mr Spierings.

Van Gaal was often criticised for never moving from his seat during games; quite literally, he stayed inside his comfort zone. The one time he did move to prowl the sideline, throwing himself to the turf in a bid to reenact an allegedly foul tackle for the benefit of the linesman, it just wasn't a good look. Some people just aren't cut out for dramatic moves.

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