Football is a results business, but positive signs on the pitch when everything looks doom and gloom may still give the men in the hot seat a little more time to try and turn the tide and, if not, then they will be shown the exit.
Recent activities surrounding managers in the Premier League are evident of this, albeit if one dismissal was by the least patient man in the country, Roman Abramovich. However, to speak in defence of the Russian billionaire, at no point did Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea show any improvement from their early season woes.
The discussion here is actually about Louis Van Gaal’s future at Manchester United, with Mourinho very much linked as his possible replacement at Old Trafford. Prior to kick-off on Monday night, the Portuguese’s scarves were on sale, setting the scene outside Old Trafford. Such a negative build-up was clearly indicating that anything less than a win could possibly spell the end of the van Gaal’s tenure.
But an improved performance against Chelsea was met with an applause from the supporters as the manager walked down the tunnel, which summed up a rather strange evening.
Van Gaal had previously suggested before United’s home game against Norwich that when the fans call for the team to attack, they actually want to see goals. Although since then, there was a small proportion of difference, yet the net was still not found. But the fans were encouraged by the team’s intent.
After all, despite the positive change, United only managed two shots on target. David de Gea, who has been the saviour on many occasions before, was once again forced into two saves in a matter of seconds after the break. The lack of cutting edge still remains an issue, with Memphis Depay struggling to make a major impact since arriving in England – the forward line isn’t clicking, with only Anthony Martial the real positive.
The statistics tell the full story of United’s downfall over the festive period. The Stoke and Chelsea games were labelled as ‘make or break’ for van Gaal. Only one point was picked up from the two games as this further cemented itself as United’s worst run for a quarter of a century. Furthermore, the gap to the Champions League places has opened up to five points.
Just like the manager, the Red Devils’ position is an uncertain one. Performances such as the one on Monday will be required to pick up maximum points in order for the Dutchman to remain at Old Trafford.
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