Van Gaal faces echoes of 1990 showpiece

London, May 19

Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal goes into the FA Cup final against Crystal Palace on Saturday facing echoes of the 1990 showpiece between the two sides that proved so pivotal in the career of Alex Ferguson.

Ferguson’s United were struggling in the 1989-90 season and the clamour was growing for the manager’s dismissal, but the FA Cup win in a replay over Palace gave the Scotsman a reprieve. He went on to build a dynasty that won 13 Premier League titles and two Champions League trophies, alongside a host of domestic cups.

Van Gaal, who took charge in May 2014 and guided United to fourth in his first season, is under similar pressure after his side finished fifth in the Premier League and dropped out of the Champions League in the group stages. The Dutchman has been accused of moving United away from United’s traditional brand of attacking football to a more laboured style, which yielded the second fewest goals of the league’s top 10 teams this term. He was booed by some fans during his end-of-season speech after Tuesday’s final 3-1 win over Bournemouth at Old Trafford.

Crystal Palace, who finished the EPL five points above the relegation zone, are in the final for the first time since losing the 1990 replay 1-0 following a 3-3 draw in the first match. “I remember Sir Alex’s career hinged on that game and maybe LVG’s career will hinge on this,” Palace boss Alan Pardew said.