The Daily Mail has hinted that Manchester United have incentivised Louis van Gaal to earn a top four finish with the club next season, suggesting the club’s main objective for next season.
United’s seventh place finish last season has left the club with no European football heading into the new campaign, placing the Dutchman under incredible pressure to finish at least fourth next year.
If he achieves that, then the daily paper has suggested United are willing to reward him with a huge bonus on top of a big salary.
“Van Gaal can top up his basic salary with a hefty bonus for reaching the Champions League, and it was apparent from his demeanour that he intends cashing in at the earliest opportunity,” reports the Mail.
Whether fourth place is what United should be aiming for is open to debate.
There is a general feeling among United fans at the moment that if LvG makes the right signings in this summer’s transfer window, United could well be challenging for the league title next season.
Liverpool went from seventh place at the end of the 2012/2013 season to almost beating Manchester City to the title last season, which suggests it can be done.
United fans should certainly hope that LvG has already got one eye on winning the league with the club because of the perils that have plagued Arsenal in relation to a ‘fourth place objective’.
Arsene Wenger has been heavily criticised for an apparent willingness to pander to fourth place, considering that a success each and every season over a stronger title push.
Van Gaal will certainly believe that he can win the league in his first season and it’s important United don’t fall into the same trap which has seemingly swallowed up Arsenal, believing that fourth is good enough to keep the sponsors happy.
If that happens, United’s rivals will step further and further away, increasing the gap over the side which has been one of the dominant forces in English football for the last 20 years.
Van Gaal certainly has the confidence he can pull off a finish higher than fourth place but we won’t know more until United sew up some deals and the World Cup ends.