Man United’s European qualification chances on a knife’s edge

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Louis van Gaal’s face said it all after Manchester United succumbed to their 6th loss of the season. The venue Old Trafford and the club Southampton but this felt like the same old song and dance for the Dutchman.

Saturday’s 0-1 loss to Southampton is another damning defeat for the club especially given that they had seemed to turn a corner of sorts. Inspired by Wayne Rooney who had become something of a scapegoat for the media recently, United had won 3 of their last four games and had remained undefeated for almost a month before this loss against the Saints.

This performance as we have seen from United frequently this season lacked tempo, desire and skill; the home team had one significant shot on target, which says everything you need to know about the match. That the winning goal scorer was Charlie Austin, shamefully neglected by other Premier league teams, was that much more rewarding. The prolific marksman was snapped up by the Saints for a bargain £4million and paid some of that back immediately.

Only last week after their morale boosting victory over eternal nemesis Liverpool, van Gaal spoke that the club still had title credentials. But this performance was anything but and mirrored United’s season thus far. Now they stand 10 points adrift of league leaders Leicester City, van Gaal’s claims seem very distant.

The question that must be posed is how long will United’s hierarchy stand for van Gaal in charge of the club? Previous coach David Moyes was infamously given 8 months before he was given his marching orders. Could it be that van Gaal’s past reputation has blinded the United board?

United’s counter argument could be that they intend to replace the Dutchman at the end of the season, and it does seem highly unlikely that he will see out his last season, due to wind up in 2017. But if this was the case then why not give the job on a temporary basis to Ryan Giggs?

Whilst Giggs isn’t going to become a full time coach at the club, the experience would do him good and with a new guy in charge with different ideas it could provide the spark that the club need. The league is out of sight, but Champions League qualification is not.

Currently van Gaal has won just half of his games in charge of the club and his 50% win rate is in fact his worse win percentage record of his career as a coach which has spanned 25 years.

It looks like van Gaal will get his two full seasons in charge when others weren’t even given a season to prove their worth. But can anyone really believe that the club have taken steps forward? It seems on reflection that the club have been standing still ever since Sir Alex Ferguson called it a day four years ago. United need to be re-awoken, who that new coach will be is anyone’s guess but what is certain is that change is needed and the quicker, the better.

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