Manchester United Beat Derby In FA Cup, Louis Van Gaal Safe For Another Week

Manchester United defeated Derby County on Friday night to not only progress into the fifth round of the FA Cup, but to preserve Louis Van Gaal’s job as their manager.

If Manchester United had lost to Derby County, who play their trade in the Championship, one league below the Premier League, then it was roundly assumed that Louis Van Gaal would have been sacked.

However, Manchester United made the perfect start to the contest. After Anthony Martial had missed a glorious chance to give Manchester United the lead in the opening stages, Wayne Rooney curled home a delightful goal to give Louis Van Gaal’s side the lead after just 16 minutes.

Manchester United’s players instantly seemed to calm as a result of Rooney’s sensational effort. In fact, they probably relaxed a little bit too much, because they soon stopped creating chances or carving open the Derby defense in the manner done so for the first 1/6 of the match.

They were then punished for this lackadaisical attitude when Derby County got a surprising equalizer after 37 minutes. A long kick up from Scott Carson wasn’t dealt with by Manchester United’s center-back pairing of Chris Smalling and Daley Blind, which allowed George Thorn to make a run through the defense, and when the ball was hooked towards him by Chris Martin he prodded a half volley past the onrushing David De Gea.

This only boosted the confidence of Derby County’s players, despite the fact that they hadn’t won for the last five games. On the other hand, Louis Van Gaal’s Manchester United only seemed to get more nervous because of the goal. The United players knew that if they lost, Van Gaal would be in a perilous position, and the nerves hampered their start to the second half.

In fact, it wasn’t until Juan Mata missed a golden opportunity with his head that Manchester United once again began to find their rhythm. Then, in the 67th minute, Manchester United found the second goal that they, and Louis Van Gaal, so desperately needed.

It came courtesy of a surprising source too, as defender Daley Blind bombed forward from his usual center-back position to fire home a low strike that gave United the lead once again. It was Jesse Lingard that provided the perfect low cross that Blind then tucked home.

At this point, Manchester United’s confidence became more palpable. And it was little surprise when the diminutive Spaniard Juan Mata placed home a third goal for Manchester United, after superlative work from Anthony Martial on the left wing.

Manchester United then ran out the remaining seven minutes in comfortable manner, while their traveling support enjoyed the victory. But does this mean that Louis Van Gaal’s position is now more secure?

A little, yes. That’s because Manchester United’s executives will be hell-bent on seeing the Red Devils lifting up a trophy come the end of the season. Currently, it’s looking more and more unlikely that the trophy will be the Premier League.

Meanwhile, it will be a long and arduous journey for Manchester United to claim the Europa League, which means that the FA Cup is probably their best bet of claiming some silverware this season. If Louis Van Gaal can deliver that, then there’s a good chance that he’ll still be in the job come the start of next season. That’s as long as they’re in the Champions League too, though.

[Image via Jon Super/Associated Press]