'I'm still the boss,' says Van Gaal as Man Utd end with win
Manchester United wrap up the season with a routine win, but victory does not impress the critics
Manchester United 3 Bournemouth 1
A defiant Louis van Gaal sent a message to Old Trafford's boo boys on Tuesday night as United finished their league campaign with a 3-1 victory over Bournemouth. The rearranged fixture, following the abandonment of Sunday's match because of a bomb scare, was played in front of a sparsely populated Old Trafford but several of the fans in attendance made clear their dissatisfaction with the manager.
One banner declared: "Time to go Louis! Not good enough!" and another ran: "Hopefully bye bye Van Gaal."
But the United manager had a message of his own, one which he delivered into a microphone at the end of a match that saw United move above Southampton into fifth spot and a place in next season's Europa League. "We are a team in transition and I said that when I started here," declared the Dutchman. "Maybe I need to bring over the message much clearer."
The 64-year-old has a season to run on the deal he signed in 2014 and asked if he expected to see out his contract, he replied: "Yes. Because I have signed a three-year deal. I want to fulfil that. The transition is not over yet. I'm still the boss."
That statement will anger his critics, who were quick to point out that it is only the second time in 25 years that United have finished outside the top four (they finished seventh in 2013-14). Van Gaal's fate may hinge on what happens on Saturday when United meet Crystal Palace in the FA Cup Final at Wembley. If the Red Devils win it will be their first silverware since Alex Ferguson guided them to the league title in 2013 - and it will also be their first FA Cup success since 2004.
United looked sharp at times in beating Bournemouth. Marcus Rashford celebrated his call-up to England's Euro 16 squad with the second goal of the night, sandwiched between strikes from Wayne Rooney and Ashley Young. Chris Smalling also got on the scoresheet but unfortunately for the United defender he put the ball into his own net in the third minute of stoppage time.
Despite the win, van Gaal admitted that missing out on Champions League qualification could be construed as "a step back". His confession came hours after one of United's great from the Alex Ferguson era said the club was heading the wrong way. Speaking to Sky Sports, former Peter Schmeichel said: "We are one of those clubs that has been dragged in completely the wrong direction. We never used to play football the way we play now."
Schmeichel said that watching United this season had "bored me to death". He added: "All the hard work that Sir Alex put in to recover what was there from Sir Matt Busby has been undone in a very short period of time. I, as a fan, want to be winning but to entertain equally as much too. I want exciting players."