Is this the beginning of the end for Louis van Gaal?
After a woeful performance in the 1-0 defeat against Southampton that undid all the progress Manchester United made with wins over Liverpool and Swansea, the Dutch coach is back under pressure and reports suggesting that he could be let go have started to circulate.
Further fuel was added to the fire this morning with a report in the Daily Mail, which claimed that Van Gaal cancelled his team's Sunday training session in order to fly back to Holland in order to attend his daughter's birthday, and has instructed assistant Ryan Giggs to take training on Monday.
Van Gaal caused a similar furore when he failed to turn up for training back in December after a disastrous run of results, only for the Manchester United board to opt against sacking him.
The 64-year-old was spotted at Manchester Airport on Sunday afternoon ahead of his flight home, and while his reasons for leaving are explainable, the timing is suspicious.
Light Sunday sessions have become a staple under Van Gaal since he took charge from David Moyes, and his absence today will also raise more than a few eyebrows.
Manchester United now sit five points off Tottenham, who occupy the fourth and final Champions League qualification spot, and average fewer shots on target at home than any other side in England's four professional divisions.
Saturday's result was greeted by a chorus of boos from the fans who stayed to the full-time whistle at Old Trafford, and Van Gaal was forced to admit his side were not good enough. "I think it was a poor performance - two teams who are not creating any chances and the lucky one has won," he said.
The former Barcelona coach added of the fans' full-time reaction: "I have also seen the match and it was a very difficult match. The two teams were well organised but didn't have the creativity to create chances. The lucky one has won but the fans want to see a winning Manchester United and we could not provide that for them."
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