Man Utd’s Champions League hopes slipping but LVG clings on

Manchester United’s hopes of a top three finish are looking slimmer and slimmer after a Christmas period that saw them pick up just one point from their two games.

Although Red Devils fans will have been more encouraged by their increased attacking intent in their 0-0 draw against Chelsea on Monday, it does now mean that Louis van Gaal’s side are without a win in eight fixtures in all competitions.

The winless run that stretches all the way back to November 21 and means United sit sixth in the table, five points off the Champions League places.

The odds on them achieving that top four finish required to reach the qualifying stages of Europe’s elite competition, have gone from 4/6 to 11/10 over the festive period.

The likelihood of them finishing third or better, and negating the need to enter the competition at the preliminary stages has taken an even bigger hit, now a 3/1 chance as opposed to the 6/4 it was on Christmas Day.

That is likely to be pushed out even further if their neighbours City beat Leicester on Tuesday night and increase the gap on the top trio to eight points.

Van Gaal’s side have picked up just 30 points this season, their lowest total after 19 games since 1990.

In fact Manchester United haven’t accrued such a small tally at this stage and still finished in the top four that season since the reward for a win was upped from two to three points in 1981-82.

The signs are there that more attacking football is on the horizon at Old Trafford though.

The 12 shots unleashed by the home side against Chelsea was more than they had managed in their last three games, and with Juan Mata and Anthony Martial both hitting the woodwork they could have easily taken three points.

Nevertheless, with LVG’s side failing to find the back of the net in six fixtures so far this season – their worst tally in 26 years – it could be that they have left themselves with too much to do.

The Dutchman may have bought himself more time, but if the odds are correct and he fails to guide United to the Champions League places, it could be that a new man will indeed be at the helm for the 2016-17 campaign.

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.