There is nothing inherently unacceptable in scrappy a 1-0 victory. After all, with just five games to go in the Premier League season, three points carry a little more significance than normal – especially with Manchester United chasing unlikely qualification for the Champions League. They were three points that keep the pressure on Arsenal and Manchester City, even if United’s chances of returning to the top table of European football remain slim.
Another week, another chance for Louis van Gaal to undo any good previously done. After all, Manchester United’s fine performance and excellent result in the FA Cup this week will count for little if Van Gaal’s side fails to beat Aston Villa on Saturday. The Dutchman’s side couldn’t fail, could it?
“The challenge was bigger for me at Manchester United. I am sorry for Tottenham, but Manchester United are a bigger club.”
Louis van Gaal doesn’t regret choosing United over Spurs despite his side’s humiliating 3-0 defeat at White Hart Lane on Sunday. Van Gaal may not regret choosing United, but United fans are certainly ruing his decision. There us little doubt Spurs supporters must have chuckled at the suggestion Van Gaal is “sorry” that the London club missed out on the ‘genius’ veteran manager.
The fun, such as it was, couldn’t last. Manchester United’s run of four wins in five Premier League games was always a mirage, containing as it did a series of narrow victories and largely unimpressive performances. It came home to roost as Louis van Gaal’s side was thrashed at Tottenham Hotspur. The Dutchman claimed, ridiculously, that his side was “an equal” of Spurs – an equal in all but good football and scoring goals.
It was, perhaps, the absolute nadir of Louis van Gaal’s miserable two-year reign as Manchester United manager. The Reds’ devastating loss at Tottenham Hotspur probably excludes Van Gaal’s team from next season’s Champions League competition, although by then it certainly won’t be the Dutchman in charge. It was, however, the manner of Sunday’s defeat that shocked most. Disjointed to the point of chaos, disfigured beyond horror, this was a United side utterly blown-away by Spurs – the same team Sir Alex Ferguson used to so pithily dismiss. The real horror came not with defeat, though, but Van Gaal’s baffling approach to it.
So, Louis van Gaal has been told that he will see out the third year of his Manchester United contract – at least according to Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf, which reports that talk of José Mourinho joining the club is wide of the mark. If true, Van Gaal will still be in post come August; news few United fans wanted to hear. After all, the veteran coach is six games from a second disastrous Premier League season, whether United qualifies for the Champions League or not. Rant has little stomach for a third season of football under the Dutchman – and 30 reasons why he should be awarded the Order of the Boot forthwith.
Is this a run of form we see before us? Four wins in the past five Premier League games keeps Louis van Gaal’s Manchester United in touch with Champions League qualification – and the Dutchman, potentially, in a job. After victory over Everton at Old Trafford, can United now make the top four?
Seven games to go. Seven games in which Louis van Gaal could save his job and Manchester United’s season; more should the Reds beat West Ham United at Upton Park in 10 days to progress in the FA Cup. It is a little over half-a-dozen games that will define not only a season, but shape the club’s immediate future. Rant knows the outcome. Well, sort of…
For once, the international break was a welcome distraction, and not just an unnecessary fixture in the calendar. Manchester United supporters enjoyed work, head held high, knowing the team couldn’t let them down – and with a glow of recent victory over Manchester City still fresh. All good things must come to an end though and the Premier League returns with United welcoming Everton to Old Trafford, chasing fourth, and with it a Champions League spot.
There was just a hint of entitlement in the statement. Understandable, perhaps, from a player who has recently become his nation’s record goalscorer; one standing on the verge of achieving a similar feat at club level. Yet, in declaring that he doesn’t ‘need to fight for his place’ Wayne Rooney, a 30-year-old suffering the third year of diminishing returns, has pushed that envelope a little far. After all, there are now better players in almost every position Rooney might covet, for club and country. It is a critical juncture for a fading star.