Man United: History hints at perseverance with LVG being rewarded

Louis van Gaal brought the best out of Man Utd in the final months of 2014/15
Louis van Gaal brought the best out of Man United in the final months of 2014/15

Louis van Gaal's job security was hit at Sunderland, but this was the stage at which Man United rallied last season...


"Looking back at his ten club seasons since first taking over at Barcelona in 1997 (ignoring the second stint as it ended in January), Van Gaal has averaged less than 1.83 points per game over the final 12 league fixtures just once."

It was another deflating weekend for Manchester United, who suffered a fifth defeat in 11 Premier League games at second-bottom Sunderland. Louis van Gaal talked down their chances of a top-four finish afterwards, implying that the Europa League paved a clearer path to next season's Champions League.

The question many critics are subsequently asking is if they really aren't going to finish in the top four, something that odds of 5.04/1 suggests is increasingly likely, then why are they persevering with the current coach, given that it would mark a deterioration from last term's standard?

There are two things in the Dutch veteran's favour. One is that the situation isn't quite as bleak as he portrayed after the Stadium of Light setback, just as he was too positive in claiming their restoration to the title race when they won at Liverpool last month.

The gap to fourth remains six points owing to Manchester City's second home loss in nine days against Tottenham. Like their neighbours, the Citizens are on a meek run of only three wins in eight.

A further reason to retain faith in Van Gaal is that he has a fairly encouraging historic run-in record.

Looking back at his ten club seasons since first taking over at Barcelona in 1997 (ignoring the second stint as it ended in January) - three in Catalonia, four at AZ Alkmaar, two at Bayern Munich and one at Man United - he has averaged less than 1.83 points per game over the final 12 league fixtures just once.

Given that the Red Devils' 2014/15 accumulation rate is a rancid 1.58, such a return would represent a significant improvement.

One argument that some of the 64-year-old's detractors would fling forward is that he isn't the same tactician that he was in his Barcelona or even his Bayern days and that his best work is a long way behind him, but the counterpoint is that Man United witnessed one of these upturns a year ago.

They were beaten 2-1 on their travels on matchday 26 on that occasion too, with such a stumble weakening their grip on fourth by allowing Southampton, Liverpool and Tottenham to all move within three points of them.

How did they respond? With their best sequence of the Van Gaal era, winning six top-flight encounters in a row and scoring 15 times in the process. Man City were dismissed 4-2, they triumphed 2-1 at Anfield and breezed past Spurs 3-0.

Similar success still has the potential to transform the perception of their campaign, especially with Arsenal and Man City among their next six opponents.

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