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Manchester United's FA Cup elimination is a victory for football

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Manchester United's elimination from the FA Cup last night is a victory for football. It would've been an absolute crime had Louis van Gaal's side won anything this year.

Arsenal were deserving winners of Monday's Old Trafford encounter and should be toasted on terraces right across the country for condemning the Red Devils to another campaign without silverware.

Van Gaal's debut season at the Theatre of Dreams has been entirely underwhelming. Despite splashing more than £150 million on new playing talent over the summer, the Dutchman has failed to entertain fans with anything like the free-flowing attack minded football that Manchester United supporters became accustomed to during the Sir Alex Ferguson era.

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If anything, the 63-year-old's struggles have put into perspective the scale of the task undertaken by his predecessor David Moyes, who was harshly treated by a large portion of the club's followers, and in hindsight definitely deserved more time to stamp his own authority on the under-performing squad.

Results might have improved under Van Gaal, but the general feeling around the club remains at an all-time low, with a top four finish in the Premier League the only positive thing for fans to cling onto.

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A return to Europe's elite club competition will be an important milestone in the rebuilding process that the former Netherlands head coach has embarked on, but realistically that was the minimum requirement following his extravagant outlay after his appointment upon the completion of the World Cup in Brazil last summer.

It says a lot about the diminishing standard of the Premier League that Manchester United still occupy one of the top four places this year. Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur should be ashamed they've not managed to amalgamate more points than their rivals, and they'll be kicking themselves if they finish 2014/15 below the Red Devils.

Poor at the back, devoid of creativity in midfield and uncharacteristically blunt in attack; this Manchester United team seems so weighed down by Van Gaal's complex instructions that every player appears to be struggling to reproduce their best form in the current system.

The only individual that deserves any credit for his performances in the current campaign is David De Gea - the world-class goalkeeper is head and shoulders above the rest of his teammates. Where the club would be without the Spanish stopper this term, it doesn't bear thinking about.

Ashley Young has also received praise for showing glimpses of the form that prompted Manchester United to pay Aston Villa close to £20 million for his signature in 2011. But, has he really been that good? Or, is it that the 29-year-old has been the brightest outfield spark in a season of gloom at Old Trafford.

High-profile signings Angel di Maria and Radamel Falcao have flopped spectacularly since arriving in England's top-flight, and whilst they must shoulder some responsibility for their poor form it's Van Gaal that should be held accountable for both the individual and collective failures this season.

A trip to Wembley and chance of lifting a first FA Cup since 2004 would have helped disguise the ongoing problems that the manager has failed to address and continue to plague Manchester United moving forward.

Their quarter-final exit has helped expose the fallen giant for what they really are - an expensively assembled squad of players struggling to cope with the pressure that comes with representing one of the most illustrious clubs in the country.

Something has got to change, and the buck stops with Van Gaal. If he fails to get Manchester United back into the Champions League this season then Old Trafford chiefs will have serious grounds to sack him, which might not be a bad decision with the club's long-term interests in mind.

Manchester United fans: Do you think Louis van Gaal should be sacked at the end of the season? Or does he deserve another season to get his ideas across to the players? Share your thoughts below...

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Topics:
Football
Premier League
FA Cup
Manchester United
Louis van Gaal

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