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.
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.
Just when Louis van Gaal’s side has seemingly reached its nadir along comes a fresh blow. The FA Cup semi-final victory over Everton was a high, only partially puncture by a limp home draw against Champions Leicester. In fact, Manchester City’s home draw with Arsenal gave United real hope of making the Champions League and redeeming a season. Then came two dreadful performances on the road: in victory over Norwich City and defeat to West Ham United.
Did you hear the one about Louis van Gaal’s sex life? It was a lot more entertaining than his football team. Once again this week Van Gaal proved better value for money off the pitch than on it as United laboured to a score draw against Leicester City at Old Trafford. The Dutchman called it United’s “best performance of the season” – although he has a very small pool of decent performances to pick from.
Sore head this morning? You should have after Manchester United beat Everton at Wembley to reach the FA Cup final, following shortly on from another solid Premier League win. Could Louis van Gaal’s team make a late charge to reach the Champions League and end the season with silverware?
They say a week is a long time in football. It is when it comes to Louis van Gaal’s unique brand of football. One step forward, how many back? Manchester United’s victory over West Ham in the FA Cup brought rare cheer on the road, only for the Reds’ old limitations to be exposed once again as the Premier League’s worst team, Aston Villa, visited Old Trafford. Same on Louis van Gaaal, same old performance then.
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.
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?
Victory! Over Manchester City! At the Etihad! Who’d have thunk it? Expectations coming into the 171st derby were low, perhaps as low as they have been at any time in the past 40 years, but in winning 1-0 at City’s home United surpassed those expectations and some. Read More
Just where does Manchester United’s defeat at Liverpool in the Europa League ranks in terms of ‘really bad days at the office’? Right up there, say Ed & Paul. True, there have been worse performances under Louis van Gaal, including this season, but have there been any more damning of the manager, more embarrassing to the team, or more acutely speaking to the need to change course? Very, very few.