Manchester United are mathematically still in the race for a top four finish at the end of the current season but frustration looms among die-hard supporters of the club as they have under-performed this campaign compared to their usual standards and left with the prospect of an FA Cup triumph as consolation.
The Louis van Gaal men conceded just two goals at home in the first eight home starts but lost 2-1 in December at Old Trafford to Norwich City which was followed by a 2-0 away defeat at Stoke City before ending the month with a home draw against Chelsea.
Those results contributed to United’s downwards slide on the premier league log and it was no surprise when they failed to contest for the title for the third consecutive season but the FA Cup presents the Red Devils a massive opportunity of winning a silverware this season after their elimination from the UEFA Champions League.
Will Success in the FA Cup be viewed as success for Manchester United?
Manager Louis van Gaal certainly thinks so when he said: “I think it is always a success when you win a title.
“But for the club it is more important to qualify for the Champions League because we have to show ourselves at the highest level. That is also our aim.”
“Always when you win a title it represents what Manchester United stands for. We have had a period of a lot of titles and we want to bring it back.
“And when you win the FA Cup, you have a title and a very respectable title and in England more than in other countries.
“When I see the people on the streets, they are so excited so you can feel already for the fans it is fantastic. But we are only in the semi-final and not the final and I want to speak about Everton because it is not a piece of cake.”
The last time United played in the final of the FA Cup was in 2007 and they lost 1-0 to Chelsea. That heartbreak, Red Devils fans will not want to experience as they seek to equal Arsenal’s record wins of 12 FA Cup titles.
United’s premier league form may not be the best but FA Cup success can help cushion the pain of missing out of the UEFA Champions League for next season if they eventually fail to qualify.
Anthony Martial is one player Louis van Gaal will be counting on to produce the goods like he did in the semifinals against Everton and the return to fitness of Captain Wayne Rooney has come at a very timely period for the 20-time premier league champions.
Crystal Palace manager Alan Pardew has warned that the final will be very tough as they are also gunning to win the competition which Manchester United denied them in 1990.
The game ended 3-3 and Lee Martin’s goal won a replay and sealed Sir Alex Ferguson’s first trophy as United manager – a feat that also awaits Louis van Gaal. The Red Devils have uncountable under-performed this season but an FA Cup win will be viewed as success.