What happens to Louis van Gaal if Manchester United miss out on the top four?

Manchester United looked nailed on for Champions League qualification, but their position now seems a little more precarious.

If you asked people in early December where Manchester United would finish in the Premier League, then very few, if any, would have suggested they would miss out on the top four, and would return to the Champions League after just one season's absence.

But after recent results, their position is looking a little more precarious. Arsenal have put together a run that has allowed them to leapfrog Louis van Gaal's side into third place, while the only thing that kept them in the top four after last weekend's results was Liverpool emerging as winners against Southampton - with Ronald Koeman's side defying early season critics who had written them off to mount a serious challenge for the honour of competing alongside Europe's elite.

Then there is Tottenham who have improved and a Liverpool side that has gone on a 10-game unbeaten run to put themselves within striking distance, who host United at Anfield next month in possibly the biggest game in both side's seasons.

United's record on the road isn't great having won just the three Premier League games on their travels, and it's a record that one feels must improve if they are to bounce back from last season's disappointment.

But there are several questions to be asked. One must ask what would happen to Louis van Gaal? Manchester United have based their financial projections for this season with the expectation of finishing third, according to the Daily Mirror. Last season, David Moyes was sacked with four games remaining after they lost 2-0 to Everton at Goodison Park in April.

You wouldn't think there would be much point to that, but it was symbolic in the fact it became mathematically impossible for United to qualify for the following season's Champions League. It was clear that it was a minimum requirement, and it's hard to think that has changed this term for the current manager.

Okay, he might not necessarily be removed from his post. But you would have to ask if he would get the considerable backing in the transfer market that he received in the summer when they spent in excess of £100 million on new players, including a British record fee to bring Angel Di Maria to Old Trafford from Real Madrid. Would that kind of backing be forthcoming in the summer?

Granted, it would make little sense to remove van Gaal from his position. It would mean United has fundamentally changed from a club that gives their managers time to build a squad that can go the top. It was one of the qualms that former captain Gary Neville seemed to have leading up to, and subsequent to the departure of Moyes.

If there are changes at Old Trafford, they may have to come from the manager himself. The results have been there in patches but the style hasn't been particularly easy on the eye at times. It could be a question of a bit more time, but the prospect of another year with less revenue could mean some of the big spending seen in the summer may not be as frequent as they would perhaps like.

Finishing in the top four would certainly make the summer easier for Louis van Gaal.

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