Cup can buy Van Gaal time – Shearer

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Winning the FA Cup could buy time for Louis van Gaal to succeed at Manchester United, says former England striker Alan Shearer.

Van Gaal, 64, has faced criticism as United have struggled in the Premier League and failed to reach the Champions League knockout stage.

But his side eased into the FA Cup fifth round with a 3-1 win at Derby.

“When Arsenal won the FA Cup it kept them going and gave Arsene Wenger a bit of time,” said Shearer.

Arsenal manager Wenger was coming under increasing pressure from some Gunners supporters before ending a nine-year trophy drought by winning the 2014 FA Cup.

The Frenchman admitted ahead of the following season that the success had “lifted the pressure”, with his team going on to retain the trophy by beating Aston Villa at Wembley last May.

Wenger’s team are now challenging for the Premier League title this season, and BBC Sport analyst Shearer believes winning the FA Cup could also have a positive effect for both Van Gaal and United.

“Without this competition you could imagine the calls that Wenger would be having to answer,” said Shearer. “It’s a similar situation now for Manchester United.”

‘Season would have been over with Derby defeat’

The Red Devils are currently fifth in the Premier League, five points adrift of Tottenham as they aim to secure Champions League qualification for next season.

Van Gaal’s side were eliminated after the group phase of Europe’s premier club competition this season, dropping down into the Europa League.

But former United goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel insisted the FA Cup is their only hope of salvaging an unsatisfactory season.

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“If they had lost at Derby the season would have been finished,” said the 52-year-old Dane, who watched the game as a BBC Sport summariser.

“I can’t remember any point in Manchester United’s history when the season has been finished in January.”

Van Gaal targets FA Cup success

Van Gaal is aiming to lead United to a record-equalling 12th FA Cup success, but says the competition does not hold any more importance to him than either the Premier League or Europa League.

The Red Devils have not won the FA Cup since beating Millwall in the 2004 final under Sir Alex Ferguson, while no player in the current squad has a FA Cup winner’s medal.

“The Premier League is important and the FA Cup also because it is the greatest cup in English history,” said Van Gaal.

“It is also long and very important for everybody. We haven’t won it for a long time. We dream of it but after two wins you cannot say we shall win the trophy because a lot of clubs want to win it.

“I want to win it but I want to win every match. There’s no question of that.”

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