Manchester United news: Louis van Gaal facing sack if top-four finish becomes unlikely

A defeat at Anfield this weekend would test executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward's faith in his manager

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The Independent Football

Manchester United officials are becoming increasingly concerned by the club’s form and the prospect of failing to qualify for next season’s Champions League, according to reports.

Louis van Gaal’s future is not dependent on beating Liverpool at Anfield this weekend, according to The Times, but a defeat would test executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward’s faith in the 64-year-old manager.

Woodward, who personally selected the former Ajax, Barcelona and Bayern Munich head coach to replace David Moyes 18 months ago, convinced Van Gaal to stay on after defeats to Norwich City and Stoke City left him considering his position last month.

However, it is believed that Woodward will call time on the Dutchman’s reign if, over the course of the next few weeks, the minimum target of a top-four league finish begins to appear unlikely. That objective was dealt a blow on Tuesday, as United threw away the lead twice to draw 3-3 with relegation-threatened Newcastle United.

After the game, Van Gaal admitted his players had “given it away” and that one point gained felt more like two points lost. "We could have scored six goals easily here and we did not. If we had, it would have been three successive wins at the start of the year going into Liverpool,” he said.

"It is not so interesting to create chances. In every press conference I say you have to score one more goal than the opponent.

“But we threw it away, we should have finished it much earlier. Lingard, Rooney, (Marouane) Fellaini could have finished it for us. Everyone knows it is our fault, not the referee or our opponent.”

 Video later emerged from the post-match press conference which appeared to show Van Gaal call The Sun’s Neil Custis a “fat man”, which has been interpreted as further evidence of the pressure he is under to turn the club’s form around.

United have now won just one of their last eight league matches but will travel to Liverpool with three wins in three against their rivals under Van Gaal’s management.