It increasingly seems to be a question of when, rather than if, Louis van Gaal will be sacked by Manchester United.
The veteran Dutch coach is under severe pressure following 18 underwhelming months at Old Trafford and speculation is rife that he will be dismissed if United are dumped out of the FA Cup by League One outfit Shrewsbury Town tonight, four days after Thursday night’s shock defeat to minnows Midtjylland in the Europa League.
However, according to The Sun, United will need to pay Van Gaal a huge £10 million compensation if they sack him while it remains mathematically possible for the club to secure Champions League football for next season.
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If true, this significantly increases Van Gaal’s chances of remaining in charge at Old Trafford until the end of the season.
However, consecutive defeats against Midtjylland, Shrewsbury and then Midtjylland again within the space of a week could make the 64-year-old’s position untenable.
David Moyes had similar clause in his contract
Manchester United sacked David Moyes, Van Gaal’s predecessor, after it became mathematically impossible for the Red Devils to secure Champions League football for the 2014-15 campaign and the same could happen to the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich head coach.
Ryan Giggs, as he did for the final weeks of the 2013-14 season, could take charge of the Premier League giants on an interim basis until the summer if Van Gaal is sacked.
United risk missing out on Jose Mourinho
If Manchester United wait until the summer before appointing a new manager, though, they risk missing out on Jose Mourinho.
The revered Portuguese coach has reportedly made it clear to United - per the Guardian - that he will not be left in limbo by the Red Devils.
United fans have lost faith in Van Gaal
The majority of Manchester United fans appear to have lost complete faith in Van Gaal and are looking forward to a change in management this summer - if not sooner.
While it’s true that Champions League qualification is still obtainable for United, their 2-1 defeat to relegation-threatened Sunderland earlier this month was a major blow.
Van Gaal’s men subsequently find themselves six points behind fourth-placed Manchester City, who arguably boast a stronger squad than their local rivals, with 12 matches left to play.
Following the cup matches against Shrewsbury and Midtjylland, Manchester United then face a tough-looking fixture against Arsenal on Sunday afternoon.
At this moment in time, it’s hard to imagine the beleaguered United coming out of that particular fixture with anything more than a point.
Manchester United fans: would it be better to pay Louis van Gaal the £10m in order to sack him now - or should the Glazers and Ed Woodward wait until the summer?