Louis van Gaal believes a club of Manchester United’s stature “needs silverware” and hopes to oblige by delivering the FA Cup.
United have not landed a major trophy since Sir Alex Ferguson’s triumphant 26-year stint ended in 2013, but Van Gaal has the chance to change that with a Wembley showdown against Crystal Palace on Saturday.
It would not make up entirely for the disappointment of missing out on Champions League football next year nor, in all likelihood, change the minds of the United fans who have lost trust in the Dutchman’s methods.
But it would be a key staging post in the post-Ferguson era and Van Gaal recognises the importance.
“A club like Manchester United needs silverware. We need it, the players need it,” he said.
“Qualification (for the Champions League) is not a title…a title is the FA Cup, the championship.
“It is important for the players. They can look at and hold the cup, that’s an exciting moment and especially here in England because the FA Cup is a big title.
“Also for Manchester United it is a big title. I have read that the club’s last FA Cup was 2004 so that’s a long time ago.
“The fans are more concerned about the title than I because the title for the fans is fantastic. We want to give it (to them).”
That it is Palace who stand in United’s way is, perhaps, apt.
They were the opponents in the 1990 final too, when Ferguson collected his first major trophy with the club.
Like Van Gaal he had been under considerable scrutiny during the season preceding the show-piece, before going on to forge his historic legacy of success.
The Dutchman noted that he “had read” about the parallels but was otherwise keen to divert attention away from his own position.
“I think the interest of the club is much more important, and the interest of the fans is much more important, than the manager,” he said.
“The most interesting point is that we are able to win something. We are very close but when you don’t win, you have nothing.
“First we have to win, then you can say it’s the first title after the period of Alex Ferguson.”
Marcos Rojo, Matteo Darmian and Marouane Fellaini all trained with the senior squad at Carrington on Thursday, bidding to break back into the starting XI after absence through injury and suspension.
England defender Luke Shaw also took full part, having not played since a double leg fracture in September, but will not be considered for competitive duty until next term.