If Manchester United finish in third position in the Barclays Premier League this season and win the FA Cup for the first time since 2004, then this will be a season well done and an undoubted success for Louis van Gaal in his first season as United manager. United at their very best for 90+ minutes has been a rarity this season, but the consistency in getting results that were missing in last season’s dismal campaign has returned somewhat. Not many would have expected a League title so early in the Van Gaal project, so it is quite possibly going to his plan this season so far.
Van Gaal’s claims at the start of the season that it will take at least two years to win the Premier League back and that it will likely be a difficult start were somewhat proved to be true. Players were adjusting to his philosophy, especially those that weren’t under his leadership before. Managers with intense management styles and a thoughtful approach to their work need time and that is something that he is likely to be afforded, along with more money many United fans will be hoping.
United havenâ€™t been consistently spectacular but they have been good enough on the majority of occasions to either get a good result or performance that gives players and staff more confidence. Results like the one at the Emirates as Arsenal in November of last year where the home side had several chances in the first 20 minutes alone to comfortably defeat a sluggish Manchester United and the 2-1 away win at St. Mary’s as the Old Trafford club played quite possibly the worst they have played in the so far shows that the resolve and belief is back in the United dressing room.
In fact, Arsenal had 23 shots (9 on target) compared to United’s 12 (2 on target) in north London and had 52.9% shot accuracy compared to their opponents’ 25%. They had 61.4% possession compared to United’s 38.5% and did more with the ball (If you like weighing up the stats for an online bet then maximise your winning chances using one of the promotional codes such as this one for Betfred to get a free matched bet). United’s main strength was their defending and counter-attacking play, but it often wasn’t effective enough and very rarely produced anything that troubled the home side’s goal. Yet an own goal and a fantastic Wayne Rooney goal won the Red Devils the game.
Arguably the turning point was the late equalizer from Robin van Persie against Chelsea at home. That was a memorable moment that quite possible shaped the club’s season because it instilled further belief and showed that the United spirit is still intact.
Adding a trophy to that would be fantastic and making it the FA Cup which has been a long time coming would mean United continue both their fantastic history of winning it the most times but also continue their fantastic recent history of winning at least one trophy either every year or every other year. The importance of winning the world’s most iconic cup competition cannot be ignored. It is even more vital that the club wins it now because of the fact that Chelsea and City, the two favourites in the first place, are both out. United must take advantage of this even if the priority is still to qualify for the Champions League like it should be.
United’s lack of European commitments and lack of League Cup ensures that this year above most recent years the club can afford to play their best XI in the FA Cup without too much fear of fatigue or burn out like in other years when a big European tie was just around the corner. If United cannot win England’s premier cup competition, then it will be another year of questions regarding whether it is still an important trophy for the most successful club in the tournament’s history to win.
Champions League qualification on its own would be good, but an FA Cup win would put the icing on the cake.
Betting men and women around the country are likely to place huge money on United ending the drought in the world’s most famous cup competition, though because it is such an unpredictable competition as evidence once again by the exits of Chelsea and City, a bit of skepticism is natural in this competition more than any other.