It was deemed to be the last opportunity for Manchester United to salvage something from a pitiful campaign, but their 1-2 Europa League capitulation at FC Midtjylland – the Danish side better known for their ‘Moneyball’ approach rather than a glittering reputation for playing quality football – leaves the Red Devils’ hopes of qualifying for next year’s Champions League hanging by a thread.
As ever, much of the criticism has fallen on the shoulders of Louis Van Gaal, who once again failed to rouse a performance of any note from his players. And while there is still the second leg at Old Trafford to come, with an away goal in the bag to boot, it appears simply a question of if and not when the Dutchman exits the club stage left.
It leaves punters in an interesting situation: news reports have made it clear that Jose Mourinho IS taking over at Manchester United, but probably at the end of the season; and that is most likely down to the Portuguese gaffer wanting to start from scratch rather than pick over the pieces of this 2015/16 debacle. But in the meantime, the question on everybody’s lips is can Van Gaal see out the campaign at Old Trafford?
Time to Shine
As you may recall from back when David Moyes was ousted from the hot seat in April 2014, Ryan Giggs was handed the reins on a temporary basis, and that kind of option is available to the United board once again. As punters we are looking at the Next Premier League Manager to Leave Their Post market, and the Dutchman is a tempting 4/5 with the bookmakers.
Perhaps the big question, however, is if he were to be sacked, surely he would have been dismissed already?
While many of the Old Trafford faithful are baying for Van Gaal’s blood, let alone his sacking, it would appear the decision-makers at Manchester United don’t share their antipathy.
So if Van Gaal isn’t the next Premier League manager to get the old heave-ho, who will be?
Perhaps the most likely candidates are those at the relegation-threatened sides. How often have we seen it in the past when a club brings in a new manager and results instantly pick up? That could be the difference between success and failure this term, and with the TV revenue money increasing substantially as of next season you would imagine that terms like ‘loyalty’ and ‘support’ to their present incumbent will mean nothing to club chairmen throughout the land.
Remi Garde of Aston Villa is next in the betting at 4/1, but in reality neither he nor the club stands to benefit if he walks away now. With the Villains all but doomed anyway, a more dignified exit in the summer is likely as that proud old club begins its monumental rebuilding mission.
Sunderland have improved in slow increments under Sam Allardyce and that wily old fox will surely stay until the end of the campaign at the very least, while at their North East rivals there is something unusual about Steve McClaren’s position at the club. He is the official Head Coach of Newcastle United, and also has taken a position on the Board of Directors. So is the former England boss going to have to sack himself? It wouldn’t be smart to back McClaren in this market given that uncertainty.
And so it’s a shame to say it but it might well be Alex Neil at Norwich who is next to go – depending on Van Gaal’s movements of course. The Scot has done a fantastic job at Carrow Road in his short tenure, but as already mentioned with the TV revenue income becoming stratospheric as of next season, loyalty is unlikely to be much of a factor.
If the Canaries are in the mire with, say, eight games to go, don’t be surprised to see Neil being handed his P45. In an age where survival is the only thing that matters, often tough decisions have to be made. He is available in the Next Premier League Manager to Leave Their Post market at 9/1.