Manchester United legend Gary Neville says the club must not sack manager Louis van Gaal, even if they miss out on Champions League qualification.
The Dutchman replaced David Moyes as United’s permanent manager and has managed to keep the side in top four despite an uneven campaign.
The race for top four is intense with Arsene Wenger even claiming it is one of the fiercest race in the Premier League history. Four clubs – Arsenal, Liverpool, Southampton and Tottenham – are out to challenge Manchester United for the Champions League spot, and it might well happen the Red Devils fail to achieve their target.
Neville says even if they don’t finish in top four, the club cannot afford to sack their manager, which could lead to a disruption in continuity.
“Absolutely not, he shouldn’t be sacked,” he told talkSPORT.
“It would be a terrible season for Man United and Louis van Gaal (if they do not finish in top four). He would probably say it was a big failure because he knows his job this season. He has to get in the Champions League.
“But on the other hand, if he didn’t, you can’t just sack a manager one year and then sack another manager the year after. Where do you go from there?
“There has to be a level of continuity. I absolutely believe this time there will be continuity and they will stand by him even if he doesn’t finish in the top four – and that’s the right thing to do.”
United have a crucial March-April to deal with, where they will face Arsenal, Tottenham and Liverpool in succession before heading to the international break. After that they face Aston Villa, Manchester City and Chelsea; games that could define their season.
Neville believes United will come out stronger as players will be up for challenge for these big games.
“I still think Manchester United will finish in the top four. I think they will scrape in.
“There is a period in March where they have Arsenal in an FA Cup quarter-final, then they have Spurs the Sunday after and Liverpool after that. There is an international break and then they have got Aston Villa, Man City and Chelsea. I’d like to think these games will inspire some of the bigger players at Man United.”
Neville has a point here, but doubts remain how much confident the Manchester United board will feel to hand over another big transfer kitty to their manager who failed to deliver in the first place (if United finish outside top four)?
And irrespective of style of football (which is a subjective issue, what matters is the league position) – should United finish outside top four, questions will be asked has he done anything better than Moyes?
Van Gaal certainly has the record to show that he can deliver if given time, but in a result oriented business, will get that time remains to be seen.
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