Tuesday 24 April 2018

Memphis Depay future in doubt after Van Gaal wields axe for final

Manchester United's Memphis Depay. Photo: Jason Cairnduff/Action Images via Reuters
Manchester United's Memphis Depay. Photo: Jason Cairnduff/Action Images via Reuters

James Ducker

Manchester United have dropped Memphis Depay from their squad for the today's FA Cup final in a move that raises fresh doubts over the Dutch winger's future at Old Trafford.

Depay has been forced to accept a bit-part role for months after struggling to make an impression in the first team earlier in the season while he has also faced questions about his attitude and application.

The latest development leaves the 22-year-old facing a battle to salvage his United career just 12 months after his projected £34m move from PSV Eindhoven.

Depay is one of only two players, along with fellow Dutchman Daley Blind, to have been included in all of United's match-day squads this season and the player is thought to have been left stunned by Van Gaal's decision to leave him out of the club's biggest game of the campaign and one that could have a significant bearing on the manager's future.

While Depay misses out, Van Gaal will restore Marouane Fellaini and Marcos Rojo to United's starting line-up for the final in an attempt to combat Palace's physical threat.

The United manager had originally planned to keep faith with the team that beat Bournemouth 3-1 at Old Trafford last Tuesday but he has since opted to recall midfielder Fellaini and Rojo at the expense of Jesse Lingard and Cameron Borthwick-Jackson respectively. Borthwick-Jackson is likely to miss out on the squad entirely.

A third of the goals, excluding penalties, that United conceded in the Premier League and Champions League this season came from set-pieces whereas almost 43 per cent of the 39 goals Palace scored in the league were from corners or free-kicks.

Van Gaal is aiming to win the FA Cup with "beautiful" football but will settle for anything that brings the trophy back to Old Trafford.

Supporters have been vocal in their disapproval of United's style at times this season and will surely demand a stirring show to end the campaign.

"Of course the starting point is to perform well, to win beautiful ... to score beautiful goals," said Van Gaal.

"But a 1-0 win, for me, is also enough because winning is the most important thing in a final. When you lose you have nothing."

Like Van Gaal, Palace manager Alan Pardew has a virtually full squad at his disposal.

The Eagles were flying at the start of the season before injuries bought them back to earth. But they have stayed together: fans, players, manager and chairman supportive of each other.

Now, with everyone back, the mood at the training ground this week has been buoyant, the only pained expressions those of the players in their pants jumping out of the minus 135C mobile cryotherapy unit the club have been using to hone fitness. (© Daily Telegraph, London)


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