They may have suffered the ignominy of failing to qualify for the Champions League, but manager Louis van Gaal believes Manchester United can salve that disappointment by winning the FA Cup on Saturday.
Beating Crystal Palace would secure not only the first silverware of the under-fire Dutchman’s two-year reign at Old Trafford, but also the first since Sir Alex Ferguson’s glorious era ended in 2013.
“Qualification is not a title – a title is the FA Cup, the championship,” said Van Gaal, whose side missed out on a Champions League place by finishing behind neighbours Manchester City on goal difference.
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“It is important for the players. They can look at and hold the cup, that’s an exciting moment and especially here in England because the FA Cup is a big title.
“Also for Manchester United it is a big title. I have read the club’s last FA Cup was 2004, so that’s a long time. The fans are more concerned about the title than I because the title for the fans is fantastic.”
Victory at Wembley would also ease some of the pressure on Van Gaal, although the former Bayern Munich, Barcelona and Ajax boss remains stoic in the face of speculation the match could be his last.
“I think the interest of the club and the interest of the fans is much more important than the manager,” he added.
“A club like Manchester United needs silverware. The most interesting point is that we are able to win something. We are very close but when you don’t win, you have nothing. First we have to win, then you can say it’s the first title after the period of Alex Ferguson.”
United are set to have defenders Marcos Rojo and Matteo Darmian fit to face Palace, while midfielder Marouane Fellaini is back from suspension.