Football

Theatre of Broken Dreams

PA Sport looks at the issues dogging Red Devils

DI MARIA'S FUTURE

Angel di Maria's underwhelming form has led to reports that he is unsettled and could even move on in the summer.

Before the game, the £59.7-million ($124m) record signing tried to quash some of this with an interview in the match programme in which he said: "I feel really good here, I'm very happy."

But after his needless dismissal, the question marks were back and one bookmaker issued a press release offering 11/4 that the Argentinian would leave at the end of the season.

All has not been well, and United have not denied the recent attempted burglary at his house was unnerving.

Things could settle over the summer but that remains to be seen and questions will persist until it does.

PRESSURE ON VAN GAAL

Pressure is certainly growing on Louis van Gaal and his record is no better than that of his predecessor David Moyes, who 12 months ago was under considerable pressure and eventually sacked.

There is a difference, however, in that expectations at the start of the season were different.

Van Gaal did not inherit a side of champions, as Moyes did.

With that in mind, and van Gaal's track record of success, there is less clamour to make a change now.

The Dutchman is likely to get more time and more money in the summer.

He has started slowly in previous jobs and come good. Before last year's World Cup, for instance, he was under fire as Holland boss but delivered when the tournament came round.

NEED TO SHOW IMPROVEMENT

There have been signs that patience among fans is wearing thin and improvement needs to be shown.

The lack of attacking football and reliance on a slow-paced possession game has irritated and disgruntlement has been voiced.

United are fourth in the Premier League but many would argue that has a lot to do with luck as performances have not been great.

Upcoming fixtures against Tottenham, Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester City will have huge bearing on their quest for a top four spot.

Failure to qualify for the Champions League - or even the Europa League - for a second successive season would be a huge blow to the pride.

It would then be interesting to see if United's stature would still be alluring enough for the biggest names to sign for them.