Louis van Gaal must win the FA Cup and qualify for the Champions League to show he has made progress at Manchester United this season, says club great Rio Ferdinand.
Dutchman Van Gaal is coming towards the end of his second season at Old Trafford with fans and pundits alike having voiced their displeasure at United’s style of play and inconsistent form throughout the campaign.
The former Netherlands boss expects to remain in charge next term, despite continued speculation that the United hierarchy are planning on bringing in former Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho next season.
Van Gaal faces a potential make-or-break spell, with a top-four spot in the Premier League still achievable if they beat AFC Bournemouth on Sunday and rivals Manchester City lose at Swansea City, while they meet Crystal Palace at Wembley in the cup final next weekend.
And Ferdinand, who the Premier League six times during 12 years as a player at Old Trafford, believes Van Gaal must deliver Champions League football and FA Cup glory to prove United have taken steps forward under his tenure.
“They have to win the FA Cup for it to be any kind of progression and they have to qualify for the Champions League,” he told BBC Radio 5live.
“Louis van Gaal would have a strong case to say I’ve progressed this team from last year in terms of winning a trophy and qualifying for the Champions League.
“But there will be people that will debate and say ‘hold on, Manchester United still aren’t playing the type of football that we expect them to’.
“I don’t think he wants anyone to feel sorry him. What I would say is that his legacy will be his introduction of the young players into the squad, giving young players time on the pitch and their opportunity. That is Manchester United’s way and Louis van Gaal has bought into that.
“But again you’re going to be judged on results. If you don’t finish in the Champions League and win the FA Cup then it’s not progression and Manchester United need to progress from where they have been the last couple of years.”
Asked whether he is optimistic or pessimistic over United’s future, Ferdinand added: “I think it all really stands on whether they qualify for the Champions League and win the FA Cup. It’s that important.
“That will determine a lot of things this summer. Investment in the team, investment in the current manager. So I think we have to win that race to fourth and the FA Cup to really understand where we’ll be at in the summer.”