Manchester United end of season review: FA Cup triumph can't save Louis van Gaal following Premier League failure

Now that the curtain has fallen on the domestic season, it's time to reflect on the highs and lows, heroes and and villains, and what the future may hold.

As part of our end-of-season guides to every team in the Premier League, Sportsmail's JACK GAUGHAN looks back at a sub-standard season for Manchester United... 

Wayne Rooney lifts the FA Cup for Manchester United but it merely covered failings in a poor season

Wayne Rooney lifts the FA Cup for Manchester United but it merely covered failings in a poor season

 

In a nutshell, how was the season?

A grave disappointment. Lifeless football - especially at Old Trafford after the turn of the year - has made watching United pretty tough going. Louis van Gaal said the target was third; they’ll finish fifth or sixth. 

And that final points total would get a team nowhere near Europa League qualification normally. They’ve actually got out of jail to a certain extent - and Van Gaal even walks away with a trophy after Saturday’s FA Cup final win.

Who was the shining light?

Anthony Martial. Honourable mentions to Marcus Rashford, David de Gea and Wayne Rooney too, but Martial has been at the centre of everything vaguely exciting about United. 

The Frenchman should be commended for the way he has settled after being labelled a waste of money on arrival from Monaco.

Who failed to live up to expectations?

Most of them. Memphis Depay gets the nod though. Hailed as a progressive signing in the summer, given the No 7 shirt, but has been very disappointing. 

Has barely shown flashes of what he’s capable of and first year here will be remembered for the cars more than anything.

How did the manager get on?

Poorly. Clung onto his job over Christmas amid four consecutive defeats. Was spared the sack on numerous occasions, with United somehow cobbling together some sort of result when it looked like there was no return for Van Gaal. 

A strange season in which he has wilfully ignored the facts before him and harped on about philosophies, processes, while blaming club legends, the media and injuries for their faults. 

Paul Scholes tried to get him the sack? No, 46 league goals did that.

Louis van Gaal is on his way out following failures in the Premier League and in European competition 

Louis van Gaal is on his way out following failures in the Premier League and in European competition 

What was the best moment?

Winning 1-0 away at Manchester City in March. Rashford was excellent, scored the winner and showed a bit of fight in the derby as well. That result put a bit of pressure on City for fourth place, something United could not hold on to.

And the worst?

Where do you start? Losing against Southampton at Old Trafford was bad, so too the result in Midtjylland. Norwich at home, Bournemouth away. The Champions League humiliation. 

But the worst was actually a victory. A 93rd-minute Rooney penalty saw Van Gaal’s side limp past League One Sheffield United in the FA Cup third round. Two shots on target that day - the worst game of football I witnessed all season.

Reasons to be cheerful for next season?

It’ll be all change. Van Gaal is expected to leave, with Jose Mourinho desperate for the job. They need fresh impetus and ideas. Results towards the end of the season have been fairly positive, yet the enjoyment of watching United has dissipated, and for that they must change things.