Manchester United could well win their Europa League second leg tie against Liverpool at Old Trafford on Thursday but, in all likelihood, the damage has already been done with a near perfect result for the Merseyside outfit last week.
And if United do scramble a victory their manager, Louis van Gaal, will likely talk about how they have proven that they are on the up and that they can beat anyone on their day.
But it’s still hard to comprehend how standards have been allowed to slip this badly at the club. Let’s just remind ourselves where United are right now. They are sixth in the league and chasing shadows in The Europa League in a desperate attempt to get into The Champions League next term. They are still in the cup but face a replay away at a rejuvenated West Ham, who must be favourites to go through now.
Even the great Sir Alex would have been in serious danger of the sack had he overseen a run like Manchester United have had in the last two seasons.
Yet Louis van Gaal seems almost bulletproof regardless of how bad results have got. At times it appears that he himself has wanted to throw in the towel but has reportedly been implored by the increasingly curious Ed Woodward to stay.
Some speak of the loyalty that Ed Woodward has shown to the embattled manager. But it looks more like gross incompetence to TFF.
The executive vice-chairman of Manchester United should have got rid of Van Gaal before Christmas as he had clearly lost the support of many fans and possibly even the squad. By February, The Guardian was reporting that:
Van Gaal loses confidence of senior United players who want Mourinho
Many believe that Manchester United need to get rid of both Woodward and Van Gaal but the owners of the club seem to like the former and therein lies the problem.
Manchester United are in danger of being left behind on the pitch – yes they have money but they have spent more than anyone in England in the last two years and have still gone backwards – and the idea that they may still overlook Jose Mourinho is total football suicide.
If, by some bizarre consensus, they have decided against bringing in that Portuguese guarantee of success then why on earth didn’t they just give Ryan Giggs a decent amount of time to audition for the job with a good 20 games to go this season? That would surely have been the lowest-risk way of gauging the quality of Giggs without gambling on a full-time contract.
Manchester United are clearly not going to win anything this season so wouldn’t it be the ideal time to find out, once and for all, whether Giggs has the right skills to bring this great club back to the boil?
And what is the point in keeping Van Gaal until the end of the season? We would love Woodward to explain it to us.
The overall picture doesn’t look great right now. Manchester United now have owners who seem to care little for the club beyond the revenue that it brings. Below that Woodward has overseen Manchester United’s worst period in The Premier League era and hardly covered himself in glory in the transfer market either. And then there is Van Gaal who seems, at times, to have given up already.
But we hate to depress you without some kind of solution. And we believe that a team of David Gill and Mourinho would be ideal and feasible to put together. But Manchester United need to make changes sooner rather than later because the fans and sponsors want a spectacle and won’t keep paying for this kind of rudderless dross forever.
Prediction: Manchester United 2 – 1 Liverpool