Sunday 10 January 2016

Rooney's Mark Robins moment for LVG

7 January 1990, United vs Nottingham Forest at Old Trafford in the third round of the FA Cup.

Alex Ferguson's side sit 15th in the First Division and have already been eliminated from the League Cup- the fans are unhappy, the squad is underperforming and Ferguson's survival in the job is teetering on the brink- indeed, he has reportedly been given two games to save his job. 

Sound familiar? 

Step forward Mark Robins: United won against Forest and go on to defeat Crystal Palace in the final, lifting the Cup to kick-start 23 years of unmatched and unparalleled success.

Louis van Gaal has found himself in an almost identical position recently- at one point news of his sacking had spread on social media and an announcement by the club of his departure looked imminent.

To our credit, we stuck with him just as we did with Ferguson and should we go on to win this season's Cup at Wembley- then Rooney's late, late winner against Sheffield United could prove to be LVG's turning point just as with Ferguson 26 years ago.

The last two matches against Chelsea and Swansea produced an unexpected upturn in the performance and led me to think that we were turning a corner- but Saturday's turgid toil against League One opposition has instead now led me to think that those two matches were merely flashes in the pan.

An article that appeared in the Telegraph shortly before Christmas suggested that failure to win both matches against Stoke and Chelsea would force the club to axe LVG- reports that later proved to be unfounded after we lost the former and drew the latter 

It's never been confirmed whether Ferguson would have been sacked with failure to beat Forest and, similarly, it remains unclear just how close Van Gaal has come to the sack but the parallels are uncanny.

The infamous banner- "18 months of excuses and it's still c**p. Ta Ra Fergie"- is a sentiment that could quite easily be echoed for LVG.

Whilst a banner has never been unfurled in protest of the Dutchman's style of play the dissenting voices from the stands have been expressed vocally and, despite the fact we are still challenging in three competitions, seem unlikely to quieten for some time.

Both Ferguson and Van Gaal took over a club and a squad in disarray but- unlike the Scot- Van Gaal has had the luxury of spending £80 million in an attempt to turn fortunes around.

Robins' solitary strike in that third round encounter proved a turning point in the career of arguably the greatest manager ever- and Van Gaal will hope that yesterday will be rendered as a similar mere footnote with FA Cup glory come May.

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