Manchester United 'can't' sack Louis van Gaal - even if they fail to finish in top four, says Gary Neville

Former captain says Red Devils must stick by the Dutchman no matter what

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Manchester United should not sack Louis van Gaal, even if they fail to qualify for the Champions League, says the club's former captain Gary Neville.

The Dutchman has been heavily criticised at numerous junctures during his debut season at Old Trafford, however the former Netherlands coach has his side sitting inside the top four with 12 games of the season remaining.

But with Liverpool showing a resurgence in form and Arsenal showing consistency - plus competition from Southampton and Tottenham - a place in the top four and a much coveted return to Europe's elite competition looks anything but certain.

Should Manchester United miss out it would be a failure - Van Gaal was set a clear target of a return to the Champions League when he replaced David Moyes. But it should not lead to his dismissal says Neville.

“Louis van Gaal should not be sacked," he said. "It would be a terrible season for Man United and Louis van Gaal. He would probably say it was a big failure because he knows his job this season.

“He has to get in the Champions League but, on the other hand, if he didn’t, no, you can’t just sack a manager one year and then sack another manager the year after. Where do you go from there?

“There has to be a level of continuity. I absolutely believe this time there will be continuity at Man United and they will stand by him even if he doesn’t finish in the top four and that’s the right thing to do."

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Moyes was sacked after 10 months in charge after it became apparent the club would fail to secure a place in the Champions League. After the Scot replaced Sir Alex Ferguson as manager he was given a six-year contract at Old Trafford and much was said about the benefits of giving managers time. But that didn't stop the club pulling the trigger - an action that will understandably lead to speculation they could do so again if they fall short. But Neville is confident that bridge won't need to be crossed.

 

“I still think Manchester United will finish in the top four," he said. "I think they will scrape in. At the start of the season I thought they’d finish third.

“There is a period in March where they have Arsenal in an FA Cup quarter-final, then they have Spurs the Sunday after and Liverpool after that. There is an international break and then they have got Aston Villa, Man City and Chelsea.

“That will be a big period but, actually, Van Gaal and Man United started the season really poorly and these big games came along and they seemed to grow.

"I’d like to think these games will inspire some of the bigger players at Man United. They need to step up their performances. There is no doubt about that.”

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