With Manchester United still chasing a top-four Premier League finish, TEAMtalk’s journalists discuss whether a Champions League place and winning the FA Cup will be enough to save Louis van Gaal.
United’s Dutch boss has one year left on the three-year contract he signed in the summer of 2014, but there has been fevered speculation about the 64-year-old’s future with many of the tabloids claiming his reign was over on numerous occasions. The former Holland national team boss though has always stated he intends to see out his Old Trafford contract.
There have however been intense rumours suggesting that Jose Mourinho is being lined up to replace Van Gaal in the summer. Nothing has been announced by the club, and they have in fact been inconspicuously quiet over Van Gaal’s future, so much so that conflicting reports have suggested that United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward is reluctant to cut short Van Gaal’s tenure.
United will surely have to release a statement on the future of Van Gaal, probably after the FA Cup final on May 21.
Will Van Gaal’s future depend on a top-four finish and / or an FA Cup triumph?
Matt: You get the impression that nothing has been decided regarding Van Gaal’s future and finishing in fourth place might just sway the powers that be that Van Gaal deserves to see out his contract. I cannot see that going down too well with the majority of United fans, but that scenario is a distinct possibility. The FA Cup, I don’t think will be a factor either way, but of course Van Gaal’s position would look a lot stronger if United returned from Wembley with a trophy. I think it’s top-four or bust for Louis.
James: I think the club are desperate for him to succeed and the close bond between Woodward and Van Gaal is well documented. The United executive vice-chairman takes a helluva lot of stick from supporters, but actually he may well be proved right by hanging fire on pulling the trigger. The FA Cup will be seen as a nice bonus for United this year – but really the main measuring stick is whether they can retain their top-four place. If they do that, he may well see out the final year.
Oli: The situation surrounding Van Gaal changes from day to day. One minute you hear that he will be leaving regardless, the next minute all the reports suggest that a Champions League berth and FA Cup triumph would be enough. For me, I think United should keep him if he delivers on those two objectives. While their supporters will feel a top-four finish should have been wrapped up a long time ago, in this crazy season its all about getting the job done.
If Van Gaal gets the boot, who would you like to see at the helm?
Oli: There is only one real candidate for the job. They need someone who can walk into the club, soak up the expectations and the sheer size of the job at hand, and deliver. That man is Jose Mourinho. With a proven track record of success everywhere he has been, United would be silly to let the Special One walk away if he is as “desperate” as reported. If they were forced into a Plan B, I’d suggest Laurent Blanc.
Matt: I’d like to see Ronald Koeman given a chance at one of the big, big clubs and his efforts at Southampton certainly make him a worthy candidate in my book.
James: Koeman is a good shout, I agree, though I see him as Arsene Wenger’s successor this time next year. There’s a genuine lack of candidates out there. It wouldn’t happen, but I honestly think the club could do far worse than Manuel Pellegrini this summer if they axe LVG.
Conclusion: Should Van Gaal see out the final year of his contract?
James: It’s tricky. If they seal fourth and win the FA Cup, then I’d argue ‘yes’. Although the football being played has undeniably gone backwards, it’s a results business and Van Gaal will have achieved his objectives this season if they win their last three games. In that incidence, however, I reserve the right to send him packing before Christmas next year if they make (another) early exit from the Champions League.
Oli: I genuinely think that United have already made up their mind – they want Mourinho to start in 2017/18 so LVG can see out the last year of his contract. They want to avoid wherever possible paying out the stupid sums of money they themselves agreed to, if they were to sack the Dutchman. Perhaps Van Gaal has not overachieved, in fact far from it, but the club could do with that extra year of stability to give themselves a better chance in Europe next season. Then Jose can come in and build on the foundations to really take the team to the next level.
Matt: No. Regardless of whether United finish in the top four and win the FA Cup, Van Gaal should be shown the door. If United are trying to lay the foundations of another Ferguson-like legacy then letting a 64-year-old wind down his career is not the right thing to do for the good of the club. The very fact that Van Gaal has spent the best part of £250million and United are 17 points behind the leaders is simply not good enough. They need to get someone in with a more attractive style and a long-term vision.
Would you axe Van Gaal? Let us know your thoughts and join in with the debate, below…