Louis van Gaal has given the Manchester United board a difficult decision to make as the Red Devils burst back into form.
After beating Shrewsbury Town, FC Midtjylland and now Arsenal, United now find themselves within one FA Cup victory away from Wembley, in the last 16 of the Europa League and now hot on the heels of Manchester City who currently occupy fourth place.
The United board now have a decision to make on whether to stick or twist with their manager.
A week ago, van Gaal looked very much on the brink of the sack, having been beaten by Midtjylland in the first leg of their European tie as well as losing to Sunderland. Since then United’s excellent performances with an injury-hit squad, as well as van Gaal’s comical fall to the ground in front of the fourth official against Arsenal, has seen the Dutchman win some rare praise from the United faithful.
Van Gaal now popular
With the introduction of a host of young players into the first team, despite being somewhat forced, it seems the United fans have begun to warm to their manager once again after seeing the red devils produce 11 goals in their last three games, all with a degree of attacking prowess which has for so long been absent at Old Trafford.
The warming to van Gaal creates a problem for the United board as they may now have had their minds changed over the past week as to whether or not to stick with the Dutchman, rather than replace him at the end of the season as they search for glory.
The board will know they cannot risk another season of mediocrity, which is a possibility if they opt to stay loyal to their current manager.
Though if van Gaal continues to use the young players and therefore adheres to the famous Manchester United policy of bringing in youth from the academy to the first team, as well as producing an attractive brand of attacking football then he will certainly keep the majority of those at Old Trafford, particularly the fans, satisfied.
Change of manager, change of philosophy
If United do decide to make the change at the end of the season and bring in someone else, most likely Jose Mourinho, then history suggests that those young players that have transformed the spirit at the club of late, may not get the opportunities to play and therefore could be farmed out to clubs all over Europe, as Mourinho seeks to bring in his own crop of ready-made stars.
The self-proclaimed “Special One” is not well known for his qualities of bringing through young players from the clubs academy systems into the first team, and the risk is that if he does come in then the Manchester United philosophy will change, something many associated with the club do not want to see happen.
Whatever goes on at Old Trafford between now and the rest of the season, whether that be United go on to succeed in any of the competitions they remain in, then the young players look set to be a part of it as the reds injury-hit squad is showing no sign of easing off.
If van Gaal continues to use these players successfully then executive vice chairman Ed Woodward will seemingly stick with the man he appointed, the man he so reluctantly wishes to sack. Although one thing is for sure, whatever decision Woodward and the hierarchy at United do make is set to have huge implications for the future.