Manchester United are in danger of spiralling further down the pecking order of English football if they keep their faith in current manager Louis van Gaal.
The Dutchman, who replaced David Moyes in the summer of 2014, guided the club back into the Champions League last season yet exited the tournament in the group stages.
His side's woeful Europa League exit to fierce rivals Liverpool has further muddied his reputation, with his team selection confusing many diehard United supporters.
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Here are five of Van Gaal’s strangest decisions as United manager.
NICK POWELL SUBSTITUTION
With the Red Devils facing exit from the Champions League on December 8, Van Gaal's final throw of the dice was replacing Juan Mata with Nick Powell during their 3-2 defeat to Wolfsburg.
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Mata, who had helped Anthony Martial open the scoring, looked appalled at the decision to be replaced by someone widely unfancied by both Sir Alex Ferguson and Moyes towards the end of their time at the club.
It was an odd decision and one that was scrutinised in the days that followed given United’s descent into the Europa League.
SELLING ANGEL DI MARIA
There are only a handful of players that leave Real Madrid and go on to taste success elsewhere.
And recent Ligue 1 champion Angel Di Maria is one of them, thriving in France with Paris Saint-Germain after being sold by Van Gaal back in the summer.
The Argentine’s solitary season at Old Trafford was average if unspectacular, with a stunning run of form at the start of the season making way for some terrible displays that saw him dislodged by Ashley Young.
Di Maria helped Real Madrid win the Champions League and, if he can do the same with PSG, it will only serve to further highlight Van Gaal’s peculiar choice to let him go.
DROPPING DAVID DE GEA
Since Ferguson retired in 2013, David de Gea has been the one consistently brilliant player in United's squad.
Yet with Real Madrid sniffing around him in the summer, he was ostracised by Van Gaal, who dropped him to the reserves and opted for Sergio Romero instead.
De Gea spent much of August pictured sitting alongside a miserable Victor Valdes, and many expected him to seal a move to Madrid on Transfer Deadline Day.
Ultimately, due to reasons that remain unsure, he stayed at Old Trafford, but his public blasting from Van Gaal no doubt did little to help him sign a new contract.
SIGNING NO CENTRE-BACKS
With Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic having departed, many expected Van Gaal to sign a new centre-back or two to help them recover from the loss of two influential figures.
However, despite the acquisition of Marco Rojo from Sporting Lisbon, the Dutchman has few players to choose from with Chris Smalling, Phil Jones, Paddy McNair and Tyler Blackett also enduring contrasting fortunes.
Van Gaal has been forced to transform Daley Blind from midfielder to defender, and whilst the Dutchman has impressed in his new position, he still struggles when playing against physically imposing strikers.
Sergio Ramos and Marquinhos have been linked to the club during Van Gaal’s tenure, yet the chances of either arriving at the club appear slim.
SELLING HIS BEST STRIKERS
Whatever Van Gaal says, the strikers he sold last summer would have fared far better than Wayne Rooney and Antony Martial have this season.
Robin van Persie and Radamel Falcao both endured difficult campaigns last season, yet the former should have remained with his ruthlessness in front of goal still intact despite his advancing years.
Javier Hernandez is now the star of the Bundesliga having been marvellous for Bayer Leverkusen, and the Mexican would have been an even bigger hit at Old Trafford if he was given more of a chance.
Shortcomings in the transfer market means the club are in need of a world-class marksman in the summer, but few will fancy a move to United if Van Gaal remains in charge.
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