Richard Buxton: Van Gaal must right the wrongs against Pool
United boss must see the error of his ways to have any chance against the Reds
ROUND OF 16, SECOND LEG
MAN UNITED v LIVERPOOL
(Tomorrow, 4am, SingTel TV Ch 112 and StarHub TV Ch 212) ● Liverpool lead 2-0 from first leg.
Manchester United's season will not be defined by winning the FA Cup, but Louis van Gaal's future hinges on Champions League qualification.
Repeat the disjointed performance that resulted in a whimpering surrender at Anfield last week and he will sign his own managerial death warrant.
Should he succeed in defying the odds and overturn a 2-0 first-leg deficit to progress to quarter-finals of the Europa League, the unrelenting 64-year-old must finally see the error of his ways.
Addressing some of United's recent shortcomings would be a step in the right direction...
1 Play Rashford in the right role - not the right side
With four goals in three days, Marcus Rashford appeared to be on the cusp of greatness last month.
Fast forward to last Thursday and the 18-year-old was transformed from the golden boy of the van Gaal dynasty to its latest victim.
Deployed in a wide role rather than a central attacking berth, he was reduced to a cat-and-mouse chase with Philippe Coutinho for the duration of a forgettable first-half outing.
Anthony Martial offered little evidence to suggest that van Gaal's tactical shift had paid dividends.
United mustered a solitary shot on target during that torturous night at Anfield. If United are to hit the goal trail, the Manchester-born prodigy must be afforded the freedom to lighten the load.
2 Fellaini - a headache than a handful
There was a time when Marouane Fellaini served as United's talisman in clashes with Liverpool.
Rushed back from a nine-game absence, the towering Belgium international was more of a headache than he was a handful.
He was fortunate to escape retrospective disciplinary action from Uefa following a flying elbow to Emre Can's throat late in the first leg.
That leniency has been warmly received by Liverpool supporters, who perceive their one-time nemesis to be more of a hindrance to the United cause than he can be a help.
Nullifying a high-intensity approach from their visitors cannot be remedied with such long-ball specialism.
3 To hell with process - play with passion
For all the hallmarks of the "United way", van Gaal remains a stickler for pragmatism.
His leather-bound folders and reams of paper point to a man who believes in processes rather than passion. But passion is what the currently joyless Old Trafford crowd need to see from this United side.
They saw the knock-on effect that a unified approach had for Liverpool, with the Anfield crowd pumped up by Juergen Klopp's free-flowing side.
Time-honoured principles of keeping it tight in defence and counter-attacking are where United have found a rare modicum of success in an otherwise disastrous campaign.
Replicate those qualities against Liverpool and they will have more than a fighting chance.
Spurs seek inspiration from Brugge of 1987
ROUND OF 16, SECOND LEG
TOTTENHAM v DORTMUND
(Tomorrow, 4am, StarHub TV Ch 202)
● Dortmund lead 3-0 from first leg.
Tottenham will try to emulate the Club Brugge side of 1987, as they attempt to overturn a 3-0 deficit in their Europa League last-16 tie against Borussia Dortmund tomorrow morning (Singapore time).
In the third round of the 1987/88 Uefa Cup, Brugge, who trailed 3-0 after the first leg, beat Dortmund 5-3 after extra time in the return leg. It was the only time the German outfit had failed to progress in a European tie after winning the first leg at home.
However, Spurs will need to be on top of their game as Dortmund have yet to lose this year.
Mauricio Pochettino's men, who are unbeaten in nine European home games, will be without Jan Vertonghen, while Dortmund's Ilkay Guendogan and Sven Bender are doubts.
- Wire Services.