Thursday 22 March 2018 / 10:58 AM


As you’ll know by now, United are in the FA Cup final, after a very, very late winner from Anthony Martial did just enough to knock out Everton.

As I write this, Crystal Palace are carving out a 2-1 win over Watford in the other semi-final – and they’ll go in as the underdog when they face the Red Devils in this season’s Wembley showpiece.

Which means something important: Manchester United are odds on to win a trophy for the first time in three years.

And if they do win, Louis van Gaal has been clear about the fact that he feels the season will have been a success.

Before United’s win, the Dutchman was asked whether he felt that a fifth-placed finish and an FA Cup win would represent a successful season, and his response was clear, saying: “I think it is always a success when you win a title.”

To be fair to the United boss, he did go on to say that qualifying for the Champions League was an important aim, too, but nonetheless, his immediate answer was telling – he believes that he will have done a decent job if his side win the FA Cup.

The question is: do the United board concur?

Now it is absolutely true that a first trophy for United since 2013 will represent a step in the right direction.

But In the context of the whole season, the poor displays, the poor form of so many of van Gaal’s key players and the very real risk that United won’t finish in the top four, it seems difficult to me for anyone to regard this as a successful season for Manchester United.

This is a club that was the very best in England just three years ago. A club that has spent over £200 million in those three years. A club that has been superseded by clubs like Leicester and Tottenham; clubs with miniscule budgets in comparison.

Taking van Gaal’s answer a stage further, one would assume that if he feels an FA Cup win would represent success, he also feels that he should be allowed to continue managing the football club next season.

And for me, this is out of the question, especially if his side fail to finish in the top four.

Van Gaal has underachieved significantly in his two seasons in England’s top flight, and failure to finish in the Champions League qualification places would represent a step back from last season, FA Cup win notwithstanding.

United can ill afford another season in the doldrums. For the club, for the brand, they need to be back at the top table. And an FA Cup win isn’t going to change that. As much as Louis van Gaal might wish it would.


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Seb Greenwood

CBS’s longest-serving contributor, Englishman Seb is our leading football correspondent, pulling no punches with his opinions on the Premier League and the international scene.

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