Louis van Gaal will face serious judgement after Wolfsburg tie

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The final round of UEFA's most prestigious club competition, the Champions League, enters the last round of fixtures this week and it is crunch-time for all of the four English teams involved.

Arsenal need to win by two goals, Chelsea must get at least a draw, and Manchester City require a win coupled with a Juventus defeat to finish group winners and thus avoid some of the tougher teams.

But for one particular team, and manager, the game is of special importance. Manchester United need a win at Wolfsburg, or at least match PSV's result, in order to qualify.


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And with many sections of the United fanbase becoming increasingly disgruntled at Louis van Gaal's patient possession-based style of play, there is only one thing now that can offset the criticism - results.

In Van Gaal's first season, the target was simple. After David Moyes' dismal campaign, get United back into the Champions League spots. He had a blank cheque with which to achieve his goal and he succeeded.

He even managed to get the club into the quarter-finals of the FA Cup, until an Antonio Valencia mistake cost them a place in the semi-finals.

Now we are into his second season, and things are not so simple. United have already failed in the League Cup, going out to Middlesborough on penalties after a dire goalless draw. Their FA Cup campaign is yet to begin, although a sustained cup run is to be expected. They are performing solidly in the league, currently in fourth position, whilst performances have been far from spectacular. And their Champions League progression hangs by a thread.

Realistically, despite underestimating his group when it was drawn, Van Gaal would have been expected to at least progress to the knockout stages, with anything further a bonus.

A decent Champions League campaign will be somewhat of a consolation if they were to perform poorly in the league in the coming months and go out of the FA Cup earlier than expected. But, fail to even qualify from the group, and drop into the Europa League instead - suddenly the jury will be out.

The Europa League will provide a wholly unwanted distraction to the Red Devils' Premier League campaign, and suddenly all of the limelight will be focused on every single United performance. The manager and the players will be under intense scrutiny to make up for what can only be described as a failed UCL campaign.

The mood right now is such that fans are willing to put aside - albeit reluctantly - the club's boring performances due to the fact they are getting points on the board. However, if they do not progress in the Champions League, the vote will swing in favour of the fact the patient approach just doesn't work. United's expectation in the league will be upped to title challengers, and a similar cup run will be expected.

So, with one game to make Louis van Gaal's United career a success, can he do it?

Louis van Gaal
UEFA Champions League
Manchester United

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