Derby v Man United: Turning to youth may put LVG in no-win situation

With Manchester United winning just three of their last 13 games it might be seen that an FA Cup tie against Championship side Derby County would be the perfect way to remedy their failings.

The odds certainly reflect that with Ladbrokes making the Red Devils the 20/21 favourites to book their place in the next round at the iPro Stadium on Friday night.

But while County are suffering a bit of a stutter of their lately, they are still occupying a top-five spot in the second tier, and manager Paul Clement smells blood.

“I am not sure it will be quite a giant-killing if we get a good result on Friday,” he said.

“It is a challenge we are looking forward to against a team that is not in great form.”

Victory, and a run in the world’s oldest cup competition, would certainly help to get some of the pressure off the back of Louis van Gaal, who is currently 2/5 favourite to be the next Premier League manager to depart his post.

However, the Dutchman is reportedly looking to turn to youth and switch things up for the tie in the Midlands and give some of the club’s fringe players a run out.

Ordinarily that might seem like a good idea with United enduring their worst season in Premier League history, but win or lose the move could land LVG in hot water.

Should the inexperience of youth see the club follow the example of their elder colleagues and fall to the Rams, taking the club out of the competition at the hands of a lower league opponent for the first time in five years, the likely reaction is obvious.

While the United fans are unlikely to turn on their young players, the manager would be the one to bear the brunt of the fallout, and with failure in the cup adding to a miserable league season, there is only one outcome.

Should his change-up work wonders though, while it will probably buy the man in the Red Devils’ dug-out some time, something else would be exposed.

Since arriving in the North West in May 2014, Van Gaal has spent a total in excess of £250m on new players, with many flattering to deceive.

If the youngsters are the ones to get United back to winning ways it would further highlight the money that has been wasted under the incumbent’s reign at the club.

Stick with them in the games that follow and it will only serve as an admission from Van Gaal of that exact point, that the players he has brought in have not been good enough.

Swap the more senior players back in after a success in the cup though, and defeat will not be an option in the league games that follow.

The club have the quality to see off Derby on Friday, but while going with the kids could be a breath of fresh air for the club in general, it could open a whole new can of worms for LVG.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Ben Stones

Ladbrokes News’ equine expert, Ben likes nothing more than studying the form to pick out a winner or two for our readers. A Journalism and Media Studies graduate from the University of Winchester, Ben has previously written for a number of football and racing blogs and websites, as well as contributing to the sports pages of his home-town newspaper.