Louis van Gaal believes winning the FA Cup would make this a successful season for Manchester United, even if they fail to qualify for the Champions League.
Life after Sir Alex Ferguson has so far proved difficult at Old Trafford, but David Moyes’ successor began brightly enough as United finished fourth in his first season at the helm.
Van Gaal’s second campaign has been less comfortable, though, and missing out on the Champions League looks a distinct possibility, despite having recently reduced the gap to the top four to two points.
Those recent improvements have done little to dim the noise about the Dutchman’s future, yet winning – and perhaps him bowing out with – silverware remains a reasonable prospect.
United face Everton at Wembley today at the semi-final juncture of the FA Cup, with Van Gaal targeting the club’s first title win in the competition since 2004 – and first major trophy of the post-Ferguson era.
“I think it is always a success when you win a title,” Van Gaal said when asked if this would be a successful season if they finished fifth but won the cup.
“But for the club it is more important to qualify for the Champions League because we have to show ourselves at the highest level. That is also our aim.”
FA Cup success would allow Van Gaal to continue a run of winning a trophy at every club he has managed, from the Champions League with Ajax to a pair of Primera Division crowns at Barcelona, plus league titles at AZ Alkmaar and Bayern Munich.
Continuing a medal-laden career would mean a lot to the Dutchman and he believes it could be the catalyst to more success at Old Trafford.
“Always when you win a title it represents what Manchester United stands for,” Van Gaal said. “We have had a period of a lot of titles and we want to bring it back.
“And when you win the FA Cup, you have a title and a very respectable title and in England more than in other countries.
“In the Netherlands and also in Spain, the cup is not so highly valued.
“In Germany, they have a fixed stadium in Berlin and they make a big event of it so I like the way the Germans do it and I expect that here it is much bigger.
“When I see the people on the streets, they are so excited so you can feel already for the fans it is fantastic.
“But we are only in the semi-final and not the final and I want to speak about Everton because it is not a piece of cake.
“We have to beat Everton and in spite of the 4-0 loss (that Everton suffered against Liverpool on Wednesday), we have showed already this season that we have lost against Arsenal and the next match we won.
“That’s the same after Liverpool – that we lost 2-0 there and then we played West Ham in the quarter-finals and made a 1-1 and that was very important.
“So Everton can do that also after Liverpool – and when you are winning, you can also lose.
“In spite of them having a lot of injuries I have read, still they have the chance to beat us.”