This season’s FA Cup is as significant for Louis van Gaal’s future as Manchester United manager as it was for Sir Alex Ferguson in 1990, says Crystal Palace boss Alan Pardew.
Palace meet United at Wembley next month in a repeat of the 1990 final. Winning that trophy reportedly helped keep Ferguson in his job 26 years ago.
“I remember Sir Alex’s career hinged on that game and maybe LVG’s career will hinge on this,” said Pardew, who played for Palace in the 1990 final, which United won after a replay.
Ferguson went on to achieve unprecedented success with United, winning 13 Premier League titles and four more FA Cups during a trophy-laden career before retiring in 2013.
This season’s FA Cup represents the last chance for United to win any silverware during an inconsistent campaign in which Van Gaal’s position has come under increasing scrutiny.
United are fifth in the Premier League table, five points off the Champions League qualification places – albeit with a game in hand – and it has been assumed by many that Van Gaal will leave Old Trafford at the end of the season to be replaced by former Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho.
“I like the guy [Van Gaal],” said Pardew. “He’s had some terrible, terrible press and I look forward to seeing him in the final.”
Pardew’s side beat Watford 2-1 to book their place in the final, with Connor Wickham’s goal proving the winner after Hornet’s striker Troy Deeney had cancelled out Yannick Bolasie’s opener for the Eagles.
The Palace boss likened Bolasie’s goal – a header at the back-post following Damien Delaney’s flick-on – to his own winner in the 4-3 semi-final win over Liverpool 26 years ago.
“We paid a bit of homage to that side with the flick-on for the corner,” added Pardew. “Steve Coppell can take a bit of credit for that one.
“This is a different team, with a different spirit, but the characteristics are similar to 1990. They are hard-working, diligent, with good defenders and some pace on the attack.
“I just hope the destiny isn’t the same result in the final.”
Meanwhile, Pardew has agreed a contract extension with Palace but says he will not sign it until the club’s Premier League status has been secured.
The Eagles are 16th in the table on 39 points – eight above the relegation zone – with three games left. Sunderland in 17th and 18th-placed Norwich are on 31 points but have a game in hand.
“I’m not ready to sign yet because the decision I made was that I wouldn’t sign it until we’re mathematically safe,” said Pardew.
“We have to keep our focus and ensure the team is ready for three important league games. We need to get the points, and then we can enjoy the cup final.”