Van Gaal gets the win he needed
Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal kept the wolves from his door for another few days at least as his side eased to a 3-0 FA Cup win against League One minnows Shrewsbury.
In a fifth round tie that Van Gaal knew he dare not lose, the Dutchman saw his team ease to a comfortable victory thanks to goals from Chris Smalling, Juan Mata and Jesse Lingard at Greenhous Meadow.
It was the perfect start to a week which could prove pivotal at Old Trafford it was one game ticked off with minimum fuss.
Progress in the Europa League, where United must overturn a 2-1 deficit to FC Midtjylland on Thursday, is paramount while any Champions League hopes could hinge on Sunday's visit of Arsenal.
BREAKING: Louis van Gaal hopeful David de Gea will be fit for Europa League tie on Thursday after knee injury. More: https://t.co/c6ZNkrXg93
— Sky Sports News HQ (@SkySportsNewsHQ) February 22, 2016
They could not afford a shock and, ravaged by injuries, Van Gaal picked the strongest team available with Anthony Martial, Memphis Depay, Mata and Smalling all starting and for all of United's troubles this season they could not have wished for an easier tie.
Yet there were concerns for Van Gaal after his side picked up yet more injuries problems, with Will Keane and Cameron Borthwick-Jackson among those set for a spell in the treatment room.
"Everyone shall say Manchester United have to win against Shrewsbury Town. For the players it is fantastic because we are in the quarter-finals of the FA Cup," said Van Gaal.
"We are in all the competitions, just six points behind Manchester City, we have a lot of chances, a lot of titles to fight for. It is isn't easy because we have to win a lot of games but it is still possible.
"I was very pleased. We have played 70 minutes fantastic, in a professional way, creating chances and scoring goals. After 70 we were with 10 and it was more difficult."
This was his reaction in an interview with BT Sport:
— BT Sport Football (@btsportfootball) February 22, 2016
The victory sets up an enticing FA Cup quarter-final against West Ham at Old Trafford, with a Wembley semi-final the prize for the winners of that tie.
It didn't all go according to plan for Van Gaal as he did poke himself in the face with a pencil on the touchline, but that was a minor inconvenience on night when his side got back to winning ways.
— Manchester United (@ManUtdUpdates_) February 22, 2016