Let's be honest, it was looking like it was going to finish as it had started at Manchester United this season, when Jason Puncheon popped up and smashed the ball past David de Gea.
Crystal Palace were 12 minutes away from a huge FA Cup final shock, well, sort of.
Given this season, it wouldn't have surprised anyone to see United crash out in the final after yet another pretty disappointing season. Luckily, Juan Mata and Jesse Lingard spared their blushes.
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Yet, only two days later, Louis van Gaal was been removed from his post at Old Trafford, and that raises the question, have Manchester United sold out too early on Van Gaal?
So Van Gaal’s United have had so many chances to prove that they can challenge for major honours, the penultimate game against West Ham United could have seen the Reds take fourth spot away from Manchester City, a prospect which should have taken United up another gear. However, they lost 3-2 and were very poor on the night when it mattered most.
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They crashed out of an easy Champions League group with a 3-2 defeat to Wolfsburg; a mouth-watering Europa League tie after with arch rivals, Liverpool should have been a success after two league victories against them, but instead it saw a demolition of United over two legs.
Even the League Cup defeat to Middlesbrough at Old Trafford showed that the current Manchester United team just aren’t on parallel with the old United guard.
United’s style of play has been more possession and defensive based under Louis van Gaal, a contrast to the constant and relentless attacking we’ve become accustom to in the last two decades.
Every team United go up against seem to have more threat and in reality, Manchester United have lost that fear factor, that, in the past, would have won them games before they’d even kicked off.
Louis van Gaal was supposed to emulate Sir Alex Ferguson’s success. Ed Woodward claimed ‘his track record of success in winning leagues and cups across Europe throughout his career makes him the perfect choice.”
In his first season, United finished fourth in the Premier League and it looked like a revival was on the cards at Old Trafford, but failing to get the best out of star man, Angel Di Maria and once formidable striker, Radamel Falcao caused United to ship them out and settle for a second dismal season - fifth place finish and no league again.
The FA Cup triumph, United’s first in twelve years, was unfortunately too little, too late.
However, there are some points that defend Van Gaal and back the theory that maybe he was sacked too soon by United.
Louis van Gaal does have some evidence that could be used to defend his honour and show that Manchester United were perhaps too eager to get rid of him in their pursuit of long term success.
United have lost some key players this season. Luke Shaw was a noticeable absentee after sustaining a broken leg early in the season.
Phil Jones, Matteo Darmian, Ashley Young, Antonio Valencia and Bastian Schweinsteiger all hit United’s injury list, bringing the total injury list in March 2016 to 17 players.
This real issue forced Van Gaal to change the team constantly to cope with the crisis, which in turn, meant he could never have a consistent XI that he could push on in the league with.
Gave Youth A Chance
Van Gaal also gave youth a chance, something they love at Old Trafford.
He didn’t really have choice, his key players were injured, but Louis van Gaal gambled on the United youth system to bail him out of a tight spot.
Jesse Lingard, Donald Love, Cameron Borthwick-Jackson and Timothy Fosu-Mensah. These young starlets came into the side and provided some of the greatest moments for United this season.
Marcus Rashford single-handedly made light work of Arsenal and Manchester City to mark his name on the big stage.
Without van Gaal this could not have been a possibility.
Mourinho Talk Added Pressure
‘The Special One’, also known as José Mourinho, had been largely linked with a move to United ever since his dismissal from Chelsea in mid-December 2015. His name had been circulated by the media time and time again, and this only added to Van Gaal’s pressure.
Some United fans wanted Mourinho to replace the existing manager, so losing part of the faithful spread across large parts of Old Trafford, even when results began to improve.
Yes, Van Gaal brought the FA Cup back to Old Trafford for the first time since 2004. This is an achievement in itself as it eluded Sir Alex Ferguson three times in his last three FA Cup finals.
All in all, it hasn’t been a great tenure for Louis van Gaal, but there have been some good points. By removing him in the way that it has transpired in the last few days, United are lurking dangerously near to mindset of Chelsea and Manchester City, who see replacement of managers as the way to quick fire success.
David Moyes was gone in less than a season, now Louis van Gaal has followed over two seasons later.
Were Manchester United wrong to sack Louis van Gaal? Have YOUR say in the comment section below!
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