Each year Rant predicts the season ahead. Manchester United’s performance, the winners, the losers and the individual stars of the campaign. There have been mixed results over the years – check out everything from 2009 onwards here. The predictions are made without the mathematical models now so in vogues and are thus – what’s the word – are little more than (ill)-educated guesses! Correct predictions in green, incorrect in red.
Once the curtain came down on David Moyes’ reign as Manchester United manager, it was clear that the Reds required a major overhaul to bring stability back to the club. Following the inevitable reshaping of the squad and the backroom staff under Louis Van Gaal, it seems that the club is in need of major surgery once again. The Dutchman has failed to end the malaise surrounding United’s fortunes. The higher-ups have some key decisions to make this summer.
Gone, but not forgotten. Louis van Gaal’s legacy at Manchester United is going to be a topic of debate for some time. With the Dutchman’s dismissal announced, his achievments are now open for discussion. Van Gaal is far from popular, and while even an FA Cup win couldn’t save him, maybe in the years to come fans may come to appreciate the young core the Dutchman has left for incoming manager José Mourinho to build upon.
So there it is. Manchester United’s long search for a major trophy after Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement finally came to a positive end. The Reds’ 2-1 FA Cup final victory over Crystal Palace at Wembley brought glory and silverware to the club – and Louis van Gaal the sack. It was the Van Gaal’s first taste of success in England, but was swiftly followed by an end to a period in which the Dutchman has increasingly alienated supporters and, critically, failed to deliver on his promises. Retirement beckons, José Mourinho beckons. Louis goes, but it is with a modicum of dignity restored. The same cannot be said for Ed Woodward.
The end – for Manchester United’s season and for Louis van Gaal’s time at United. At least the old boy went out with some silverware to show for it after one of the most miserable campaign’s in living memory ended with the Dutchman facing the sack. Van Gaal’s time at United has been a failure, even if it concluded with the veteran coach defiantly parading the FA Cup in front of the media on Saturday night. Plus ça change, Louis. Welcome, José.
In years gone by the build up to the FA Cup final would centre on the teams involved. The occasion and the prize on offer mean far more than the future of any manager. But, then, this hasn’t been any old season. Manchester United heads into the FA Cup final against Crystal Palace looking for the club’s first piece of major silverware since Sir Alex Ferguson retired in 2013. Three long years. While reaching the cup final is to be celebrated, there will be relief painted across United supporters’ faces come full-time on Saturday. The curtain will surely come down on Louis van Gaal’s era at Old Trafford.
So it came to pass – Manchester United failed to reach the Champions League for the second time in three years. Confirmation was delayed by 48 hours, but Manchester City’s draw at Swansea all but guaranteed the Blues a place at the top table of European football. Despite beating Bournemouth on Tuesday, Louis van Gaal’s side is out: of time, of the Champions League, of credibility.
As the old saying goes, it’s not despair, but the hope that kills you. On Tuesday night, Manchester United travelled to East London to face West Ham United with Champions League qualification on the line. The Reds needed a win to leap-frog Manchester City into fourth place with one game remaining after the Blues had come unstuck at home to Arsenal. Yet, as has so often been the case during Louis Van Gaal’s disastrous reign as United manager, his team fell apart on the big occasion. On an emotional night in East London the Hammers out-played and out-fought United in every department. It was West Ham’s last appearance at the Boleyn Ground, but in truth the home side did little more than expose United for the poorly managed, disorganised mess that the side now is.