Manchester United go into tonight’s make-or-break Europa League tie with FC Midtjylland knowing anything less than a win could end both their dreams of winning the competition and manager Louis van Gaal’s reign at Old Trafford.
The Dutchman has spent close to £300m on boosting his United squad since taking over from David Moyes but while that money has brought in the likes of Anthony Martial, Memphis Depay, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Morgan Schneiderlin it’s a youth academy graduate who looks most likely to get United out of jail.
Jesse Lingard, now back in full flight after a spell on the treatment table, has made a mockery of Depay’s £25m transfer fee in recent weeks regularly upstaging his Dutch counterpart and scoring three goals in his last five outings.
The latest of these strikes put the icing on the recent 3-0 win over Shrewsbury and with captain Wayne Rooney out for the foreseeable future the Warrington-born winger looks the man most likely.
This form is reflected in the odds with Lingard priced at 21/20 to net at anytime during the match and at 9/2 to open the scoring but despite the skinny odds the form book suggests the 23-year-old is the value bet.
By contrast, Depay offers shorter odds of 7/2 to strike first and 15/4 to net at anytime but with just six goals from his 37 appearances so far this term and one goal in his last 16 matches it could pay to back the Brit on this occasion.
United are the heavy favourites to win on the night at 2/3, with the draw on at 5/1 and Midtjylland a 12/1 shot despite winning the first leg.
However, with each game now potentially Van Gaal’s last as Old Trafford boss United will be going all out to put in another convincing display.
Those that think the Dutchman will hang on to his job – until the end of he season at least – could be swayed to back a comprehensive home win with United (-2) available at 7/4, United to win 3-0 at 6/1 and the Lingard, 3-0 scorecast paying out at 22/1.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.