Louis van Gaal has a chance to salvage his Manchester United career in the FA Cup, where his side will face Crystal Palace in the final next month.
It’s a mirror image of the scenario Sir Alex Ferguson faced for the Red Devils back in 1990, when he also led his side out at Wembley to tussle with the Eagles under immense pressure of the sack.
Obviously Ferguson went on to achieve unbridled success at Old Trafford following his victory over Palace all those years ago and his Dutch successor will hope for a similar shot in the arm for his own tenure.
The good news for Van Gaal is that there are plenty of reasons to be confident of a United win, not least the 4/11 price Ladbrokes offer that they lift the trophy. Here are another three though, just for good measure:
A dominant head-to-head record
Not only have United collected one of their 11 FA Cup titles against Palace, but they have an overwhelming record against the Londoners across history in general.
31 of the 48 meetings have gone the Manchester giants’ way since first locking horns with the Selhurst Park side in 1922. The Red Devils are also undefeated in six against Palace, winning five.
Palace have never managed to beat United in an FA Cup clash either.
Van Gaal’s positive record in finals
Backing up United’s dominance over Palace is their manager’s general success in cup finals.
When focussing purely on tournaments and discounting one-off, Community Shield-type matches like the UEFA Supercup, the Spanish Supercopa and the Dutch Johan Cruyff Shield, the Iron Tulip has a pleasing record.
The Dutchman has won four of his finals to collect winners medals for the UEFA Cup, Champions League, and both the German and Dutch cups. He has only lost three times.
Palace’s overawed tendency
That 1990 appearance is the only FA Cup final Crystal Palace has reached in its history. In fact, it’s the only mainstream final they have ever played in, so there is every chance their current squad become intimidated by the situation.
A look at their performances in big league games this season backs up the theory. Alan Pardew’s side have not beaten a single side currently occupying the top six and only triumphed once against any of last season’s top four.
Upsets involving the Eagles are therefore quite rare, so the likelihood of them pulling one off in the showpiece of an FA Cup final looks remote.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.