As speculation over Louis van Gaal and Jose Mourinho’s respective futures continues, Manchester United can’t afford another season with the Dutchman at the helm.
For months the rumour mill has constantly linked the former Chelsea boss with a switch to Old Trafford this summer, and yet it doesn’t appear as though the club are moving closer to deciding on making a change.
Speaking in his weekly press conference, as noted by Sky Sports, Van Gaal told the media that he is in fact involved in United’s planning for pre-season and next year, thus suggesting that all parties concerned are gearing up for another campaign together.
Coupled with the report that there is no agreement between the Red Devils and Mourinho, it doesn’t appear as though a change is being planned, which in turn likely means that United will miss out on an opportunity to land one of the top managers in world football.
Admittedly, the fact that Van Gaal can still secure the FA Cup and a top-four finish in the Premier League will work in his favour, as it is a solid foundation to build off next season.
However, it shouldn’t mask the problems that United have experienced at various points this season, including their goalscoring woes and general style of play which had attracted significant criticism from supporters and former players alike.
There are positive aspects of Van Gaal’s tenure, and he has certainly done well in bringing a younger group through to set the tone for the future and put pieces in place that will continue to be important at United even after he has left.
Nevertheless, if United have an opportunity to get Mourinho, then it is one that they simply have to take. With Chelsea appointing Antonio Conte, Pep Guardiola’s arrival at Manchester City and Jurgen Klopp’s influence being felt on a bigger scale at Liverpool this summer, next season is being predicted to be one of the most competitive years in Premier League history.
Add to the mix likely defending champions Leicester City, an ever-improving Tottenham and Arsenal who will be under severe pressure to make big changes this summer, United have to take the necessary steps to ensure that they don’t slip behind.
While the FA Cup and fourth-place will be an improvement, is it really enough? Furthermore, has there been enough progress under Van Gaal to suggest that it will continue on a consistent upward trajectory?
Domestically, there have been positive recent signs, but let’s not forget the Champions League and Europa League exits and what a club of United’s stature should be aspiring to.
Whether or not Van Gaal ends this season strongly, there will be question marks over him both on the pitch and in the transfer market, and that will be a distraction that United can’t afford. Mourinho offers guarantees and will make an immediate impact at Old Trafford, and the Premier League giants need him to lead their rebuild this summer.