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Manchester United need to win the FA Cup. Not to keep Louis van Gaal in a job because, if United finish outside of the top four, he will leave as a failure. The reason they need to win it is for their own confidence and self-belief.

If they finish the season empty handed and, as is expected, van Gaal leaves, there will be more doubts than definites and more pessimism than optimism. No Champion’s League football next season, as with last, would not be a total disaster. It would, however, demonstrate how far United have fallen since Sir Alex Ferguson retired.

United have a chance of picking up two trophies this season, (three if you count the Premier League, which they are not good enough to win). They could win the Europa League and maybe should take it seriously as it is another route into the Champion’s League. As already mentioned they should be trying all-out to win the FA Cup. The fans will forgive boring, inept performances if trophies are won, (for a short while anyway). If nothing is won and the performances are not good then expect the fans to get on the player’s backs, after the manager of course.

The problem facing United at present is that they don’t appear to have improved. They scraped into fourth position last season, meaning they had to qualify for the Champion’s League. They were then eliminated very tamely and softly from a relatively easy group, AFTER having spent £258 million on new players!

Also this season, WITH all these new players, (except for the very unfortunate Luke Shaw), they are not even in the top four! They exited the Capital One Cup very meekly at the hands of Middlesbrough, at Old Trafford. Then, in the FA Cup, they needed a penalty during injury time at the end of the game to knock out Sheffield United of the First Division, again at Old Trafford.

At the moment United fans are descending from the delirious heights they reached after beating Liverpool at Anfield. From the posts and forums I have seen online, all is right at the Theatre of Dreams if you only take these reactions into account. Most fans would not hear a bad word said against the team because they won a game against Liverpool.

They are, of course, living in cloud cuckoo land, which is fine for a short while, enjoy it while it lasts, because the truth is that United were lucky to win the game. Liverpool, who were better than United on the day, are only an average team. Even Crystal Palace had beaten them at Anfield shortly before the game against United.

Obviously, at present, United don’t appear to be progressing at all. In fact, if anything, they are regressing. If any of the success of recent times is to be repeated then a couple of things need to change.

The first change needs to be the manager. Louis van Gaal will have his supporters, citing everything he has won in the past and he will have his detractors saying that his ideas are too old-fashioned and written in stone for a club like United.

I am with the latter. Initially I thought he was a good appointment but, in fairness after David Moyes, I would probably have thought anybody was a good appointment!

He started reasonably and I must admit to thinking he was doing fine when United finished fourth and then qualified for the Champion’s League. The problem is that this appeared to be the zenith of this time at Old Trafford. Everything since has been downhill.

I would like to see Diego Simeone brought in to replace him. Pep Guardiola is a remote possibility, but it looks pretty certain that he is going to City. Saying that he would be prepared to wait a year for a job does not mean he is going to United, it means he is being polite to Manuel Pellegrini who also has another year on his contract. He won’t have to wait, Pellegrini will go at the end of this season.

I would also like to see players brought in to fill and cover the problem areas. Despite the amount of money van Gaal has spent, he still insists on playing people out of position, why? Buy a decent striker, buy a decent wing back and buy a decent centre back! It isn’t rocket science. Stop playing Ashley Young as a wing back, HE CANNOT DEFEND! Daley Blind is a defensive midfielder, not a centre back, Matteo Darmian is a right back, not a left back and Juan Mata is probably the best number ten at the club, he certainly is not a winger. I won’t even mention Fellaini, as another paragraph could be written about him and his strange deployment.

It doesn’t look as though any of the aforementioned moves are going to happen under van Gaal. He is now halfway through this transfer window and there are no signs of anyone arriving at Old Trafford.

So it looks as though the rest of the season will be played out with the current group of players. When all are fit, they are certainly good enough to make the top four, even with van Gaal in charge. The problems are that they are not all fit and van Gaal plays around with the positions in a way none of the other top teams would even consider!

These are the reasons they will finish outside of the top four and trophy-less for the second time in three years.

I hope I am wrong!

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