Manchester United could still miss out on the Champions League – even if they managed to finish fourth in this season’s Premier League.
United are at the moment sitting fifth, four points adrift of bitter rivals Manchester City, who occupy fourth spot.
But even if LVG’s boys successfully overhaul Manchester City and stay ahead of West Ham, who are right now sixth, the Red Devils may still be denied a berth in next season’s Champions League.
United would apparently miss out on Europe’s elite competition if City becomes the Champions League winner despite finishing outside of the top four, and if Liverpool went on to win the Europa League.
The winners of the Champions League are guaranteed a secure place in next season’s tournament, as are the team which wins the Europa League.
UEFA have also confirmed England will have a maximum five teams in next season’s Champions League, with no chance for six clubs from the same country in the tournament.
Against that backdrop, a Manchester City and Liverpool European double would see United’s arch rivals deny the three-time European Cup winners a direct entry into the Champions League for the second time in three years, if though Van Gaal’s men finish fourth.
Tottenham missed out on Champions League football for the exact reason in 2012 when Chelsea won the tournament.
Some will say, van Gaal has a remarkable knack of getting a result just when he requires it most.
On Wednesday night, the win over West Ham actually kept United in the FA Cup and gave the Dutchman yet another stay of execution as he continues to limp on.
Even though it was not convincing, merely inspiring and yet Van Gaal has managed to take United to Wembley and they are now just 180 minutes from winning a trophy which could keep him in the hot seat.
You can look back at various points of the frustrating season and van Gaal somehow has always got a result when he needed it desperately. Against Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool, Midtjylland and now West Ham.
He is either incredibly lucky or, if you want to give him some credit, then his years of experience have a magic touch which may win him the FA Cup and even get him in the top four.
And just when you start to think the players may not still be playing for him, you see some heroic performances in huge wins.
The most unlikely was from Marouane Fellaini who scored and was a menace throughout against West Ham, with a marauding midfield display as he bullied the opponent.
United keeper David De Gea once again produced incredible saves, his best in the dying stages as finally West Ham produced a late fight back even though it was too little, too late by then.