Key points

  • Manchester United face League One Shrewsbury Town at Greenhous Meadow in FA Cup fifth round on Monday in first meeting of clubs
  • United playing 50th straight FA Cup game live on TV
  • Shrewsbury have beaten Cardiff and Sheffield Wednesday to reach last 16
  • United have lost last two matches to Sunderland in Premier League and Danish side FC Midtjylland in the Europa League last 32 first leg
  • United fifth in Premier League, six points behind Manchester City
  • Jose Mourinho apparently waiting in wings to take over if Van Gaal misery continues

LVG concedes job is on the line

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You cannot continue with losing games. You have to see every match as a match you have to win. On Monday we have to win. If we win, we are in the next round and we are capable of winning the FA Cup. The question is how we lift ourselves for this game because Shrewsbury will fight for the second balls and play direct and those kind of things, and you have to cope.

A nightmare scenario in the making?

There is only so much suffering a manager should be allowed to take before a club has to say enough Is enough. United chief executive Ed Woodward has been supportive of Van Gaal throughout this hellish, turbulent season that has already seen the club fail to reach the Champions League group stage while struggling to qualify for European football’s club competition via the Premier League.
Shrewsbury are fourth bottom of League One, battling to avoid relegation to League Two, but face a visiting side ravaged by injury and without David de Gea, Wayne Rooney, Matteo Darmian, Marouane Fellaini, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Phil Jones, Ashley Young, Antonio Valencia, Luke Shaw, Marcos Rojo, Guillermo Varela and Adnan Januzaj. The scene is set for a memorable night with the feeling that United can’t win even if they win. It would be a mercy sacking if United mess this one up.

Louis van Gaal - AFC Bournemouth v Manchester United

Image credit: Reuters

Shrewsbury 'may not fear United'

Van Gaal concedes Micky Mellon’s side may display little fear of the visiting side. “When you see the last two games it’s maybe like that, but maybe we have to make them fear again, because we lost the first match in the Premier League also, Swansea City when I came. But then still we had a very good home record last season and we can do that again, it’s a question of winning matches in a row.”

Would Mourinho be ready to take over if it all goes wrong?

According to local media reports, Mourinho has a “gentleman’s agreement” to become the next United manager. There are claims United contacted Mourinho’s representatives after the Europa League debacle, but this has been played down. Super agent Jorge Mendes wants Mourinho installed at Old Trafford now, but Woodward is apparently keen for LVG to see out the season. The decision may be taken out of his hands if United suffer defeat to Shrewbury.

José Mourinho

Image credit: AFP

What are the prospects of United being turned over?

United's most embarrassing defeat was losing at Harry Redknapp's third division Bournemouth in 1984. Even with so many injuries, United would have to outdo themselves to blow this one. They are 7/19 favourites to progress. United have lost just one of their last 45 FA Cup games against lower-league opposition while the home side’s last win over a Premier League team came against Everton in 2003. Nervous times certainly, but we expect United to secure a quarter-final with West Ham United at Old Trafford, a tie that provides an altogether different problem in attempting to contain Dmitri Payet.
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