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Manchester United's search to bring back glory years goes on

Louis van Gaal might have won the FA Cup but now he has to go. Manchester United's search to bring back glory years goes on

Manchester United won the FA Cup by beating Crystal Palace on SaturdayLouis van Gaal lifted the trophy after securing first Old Trafford silverwareBut failure to make Premier League top four means he has to leave UnitedUnited cannot afford to wallow in quicksand of Van Gaal's stifling stricturesVan Gaal has lost the battle of hearts and minds over his two years in chargeBy

Louis van Gaal marched into the room, head held high, his haughtiness untouched. He held the FA Cup firmly in one hand and as he sat down behind the microphone, he took great care to place it directly in front of him. When the cameras captured him, he wanted the trophy to be right there in the shot with him. There must be no escaping it. Mourinho was across town at the 02 Arena, watching some undercard fights at a boxing show, but he was here, too. His presence was heavy in the room.

When the questions got round to that, Van Gaal stiffened and prepared his defiance. 'I show you the cup and I don't discuss it with my friends in the media who have already sacked me for six months,' he said. 'Which manager can do what I have done? I don't want to talk about leaving the club.'

The questions persisted. United's media manager, Karen Shotbolt, tried to call the press conference to a halt and got up to leave. Van Gaal stayed right where he was. He was up for the fight. He claimed he had just won a 'title', which was disingenuous. He had just won the FA Cup. It is not the title. It is a long way from the title.

Van Gaal ploughed on. He was in declaratory form. For a man who has spent a quarter of a billion pounds in the transfer market to finish fifth in the Premier League 15 points behind Leicester City and get knocked out of the Champions League at the group stage, he looked awfully pleased with himself.

He talked about how difficult it was for United to sign players. He said other clubs inflated their fees when they knew United were interested. He bemoaned the amount of injuries United had had. There had been 14 players injured in November and December, he said. The excuses came spilling out.

Eventually, when he had exhausted his harangue, he rose to his feet and brandished the cup at the auditorium as if he were an old man shaking a stick. 'Thank you for the congratulations,' he said, his voice dripping with sarcasm. Then he marched over towards the door, where another group of journalists was waiting for a separate press conference. He shoved the trophy under their noses. 'Thank you for the congratulations,' he said again, and was gone.

It was a decent way to say goodbye. We can give him that. And for all his gracelessness during his time at Old Trafford,rolex oyster perpetual datejust mens fake, it was hard to begrudge him a trophy at what seems to be the end of his time in charge. He has at least bequeathed his successor a group of young players like Marcus Rashford, Jesse Lingard, the scorer of the quite magnificent winner yesterday, and Anthony Martial who might be United's front line for years to come.

But as for all his grand claims, they were poppycock. Maybe there was a time when winning the FA Cup would have been enough to save Van Gaal. Not any more. We don't live in the 1970s or 1980s when FA Cup Final day was still the biggest occasion in the domestic football calendar. A manager is judged on his performance in the Premier League and the Champions League now and that is why Van Gaal surely has to go.

FA Cup victory or not, finishing 15 points behind Leicester City in the league is not good enough from Van Gaal

Sure, United's dramatic extra time victory brought United their first trophy since the departure of Sir Alex Ferguson and gave their supporters a reason to celebrate after a difficult season.

But let's put what happened here in some perspective. United squeezed past Crystal Palace in the final of a competition that has slid down English football's pecking order. Their aim is to be mixing it with Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Real Madrid and this side is still a million miles away from being able to do that.

Van Gaal had to get United into the top four again this season at the very least to have a chance of keeping his job,datejust rolex oyster perpetual fake. United never really looked like achieving that even though Manchester City did their damnedest to give their bitter rivals of chance of sneaking in amongst the leading quartet right to the end.

Van Gaal cannot complain about his time at Old Trafford as he has always been backed in the transfer market

Fifth simply wasn't good enough. It meant Van Gaal was taking United backwards at a time when his champion, executive vice chairman Ed Woodward,rolex oyster datejust perpetual fake, and the supporters, desperately needed to see signs of progress. There was no progress. Things were getting worse. The fans had started to grow deeply disillusioned.

Van Gaal cannot complain about backing from the board. He has lavished money on new signings. Whether it has been money well spent is another matter entirely. The fact remains that with that kind of support and with a club of United's size, fourth is the absolute minimum that Van Gaal should be achieving.

With Pep Guardiola arriving at the Etihad this summer, Antonio Conte poised to shake up Chelsea, Spurs on the rise under Mauricio Pochettino and Liverpool apparently on the brink of a renaissance under Jurgen Klopp, United cannot afford to wallow in the quicksand of Van Gaal's stifling strictures for another moment.

A big issue for Van Gaal is the fact that he is simply not popular with supporters of the Old Trafford side

As it is, it will be harder to make signings this summer because of the lack of Champions League football. United will have to overpay again, as they did last summer.

They will have to take risks again because the cream of the crop do not want to give up a year of their career, or more, trying to get back into the Champions League.

Sometimes, there is an argument for continuity and it is obvious that, as they thrash around in their post Ferguson uncertainty, United desperately need stability.

In response,oyster perpetual datejust fake, the former Barcelona boss has suggested that expectations at Old Trafford are too high

But there is no point choosing stability if it is with the wrong man. The longer this season went on, the harder it became to believe that Van Gaal was capable of lifting United back to the top.

He is not popular with the fans and there is a growing body of anecdotal evidence that he is not popular with the players, either. He feels like yesterday's man to many of them.

Much of what he taught and demanded, particularly his insistence on patient, laboured, possession based play, has felt like the antithesis of the modern trend. United look like a side that has been left behind.

Sir Alex Ferguson carried the FA Cup out on to the pitch before hugging Paul Scholes, Van Gaal's biggest critic

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By LOO
Added Aug 12

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