Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal needs to qualify for the Champions League next season, otherwise he too may be looking for a new job this summer.
The veteran Dutch manager had a poor start when taking the helm at Old Trafford from the ill-fated David Moyes last summer before a good run bolstered his standing.
But recently, van Gaal’s judgement and playing style have generated much criticism, and the general feeling is that if he doesn’t finish at least fourth, then employment elsewhere will soon be necessary.
Losing to Arsenal in the FA Cup quarterfinal on Monday thickened the gloom at Old Trafford, consigning them to a ninth straight season without success in that competition.
Before kick off, van Gaal confirmed that his priority was qualification for next season’s Champions League.
United have 10 Premier League matches left, and although they are fourth, sit only two points ahead of Liverpool, who are playing much more convincingly now after months of mediocrity and erratic results.
United go to Anfield next week and that match could be the season definer for van Gaal.
His season was always going to be difficult but was further complicated with more injury woes this week, with left-back Luke Shaw being the biggest worry. Marcos Rojo and Ashley Young are the other casualties. Jonny Evans is suspended for six games for that notorious spitting incident, and striker Radamel Falcao has been an expensive flop.
Robin van Persie is not as prolific as before and could be replaced at the end of the season, and van Gaal continues baffingly to use Wayne Rooney in midfield rather than as a striker.
Genius or duffer? Hailed for his unflinching belief in his own judgement, van Gaal nevertheless only has a few matches to swing his employers’ minds one way or the other.