Manchester United’s 3-2 defeat at West Ham on Tuesday night means that the Red Devils hopes of a place in next season’s Champions League now hang in the balance.
Louis van Gaal’s team now have to hope that Manchester City lose their last game at Swansea.
In truth United’s style of play has improved over the last few months. The introduction of youngster Marcus Rashford has helped bring speed and directness to the Red Devils team. Big money French signing Anthony Martial has also found some form of late.
Suddenly United are not playing the same dull brand of football they were earlier in the season and gave themselves a chance of making the Champions League.
Odds are now against United
United gave themselves a fantastic chance of over-throwing arch-rivals Manchester City in the race for a Champions League spot, but after the West Ham defeat United are odds of 11/2 to finish in the top-four this season.
With one league game remaining for United it now seems unlikely that the Red Devils will make the top four. For Van Gaal’s team to qualify for the Champions League they would need to beat Bournemouth and hope that Swansea defeat City at the Liberty Stadium.
United’s game in-hand on City was their chance to move above the Citizens, but West Ham proved too strong for the Red Devils and United lost their advantage over City prior to West Ham game.
United were expected to be among the Premier league title challengers this season, so failure to qualify for the Champions League would have to be regarded as underachievement for Van Gaal’s team.
Jose Mourinho in the shadows
Rumours and speculation continue to link former-Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho with the United job. It seems the majority of the media already have the Portuguese boss as the United boss this summer. Mourinho’s shadow looms large over Van Gaal’s tenure at Old Trafford.
For a boss like Van Gaal with such a massive ego the current situation must be a difficult one. The Dutchman is probably his own biggest fan, but even Van Gaal must be now questioning his own position in Manchester.
Mourinho is obviously one of the most successful bosses in recent history, although his performance as Chelsea boss this season has got some United fans worried that he may not be the man to bring back the glory days to Old Trafford.
Despite this season’s disastrous campaign with Chelsea, Mourinho is still considered one of the top current bosses in world football. More often than not Mourinho wins team silverware, as has been proven in his trophy-laden career so far.
His style of football is not always easy on the eye, but let’s face it for the majority of the campaign United’s under Van Gaal has not been. One major down point to appointing Mourinho is likely to be fewer youngsters in the United team, which has been one of the plus points from Van Gaal’s reign.
The Portuguese boss is not one for developing and nurturing young talent. Instead he tends to go for the more seasoned players for the core of his team.
Manchester United should be performing better
Manchester United could still finish in the top five of the Premier League and win the FA Cup this season, but for many the Red Devils should be performing better than they currently are in the English top-flight table.
Simply on the amount of money that has been invested in the team they should be at least top four. However Louis van Gaal for much of the campaign has bored fans with a brand of football that would send Tony Pulis asleep.
The fact that United’s style has improved by playing younger and quicker players in recent months has helped belief grow slightly in Van Gaal’s regime, as they now look like a team worth watching. For Louis van Gaal though it may not be enough for him to keep his job.
If the veteran Dutchman would have been trying to play this brand of football from the beginning of the campaign, then arguably United would have been more successful and the fans slightly more forgiving. However if United do fail to qualify for the Champions League then I can see the Red Devils hierarchy moving in the direction of a certain unemployed Portuguese fellow.
Should Van Gaal keep his job beyond the summer?