Manchester United face Wolfsburg in Group B of the Champions League tomorrow evening. United go into the final group game knowing that a win would take them through to the knockout stages. While they could suffer defeat away to Wolfsburg and still find themselves going through to the next round depending on PSV Eindhoven's result against CSKA Moscow.
Though many would have you believe that an exit from the Champions league at this stage would be the end of world for Manchester United, I don't believe it would be. Although as a Manchester United supporter I want to see my team stay in the competition for as long as possible, it doesn't take a genius to see that United are a long way off challenging to win the competition.
Failure to qualify would see United enter the Europa League instead come the New Year. Many fans wouldn't be happy to see United enter the second tier of European competition. Though this could give United manager Van Gaal the chance to give more opportunities to some of the younger players in and around his first-team squad. In recent weeks we have seen him give an extended run in the team to Jesse Lingard and give senior debuts to defenders Cameron Borthwick-Jackson and Guillermo Varela. Whilst fellow youngsters Axel Tuanzebe, Marcus Rashford and Sean Goss have made it onto the bench.
Should Van Gaal decide to go this way if United end up in the Europa League, not only would it give some of these players invaluable experience and give Van Gaal a clue as to whether these players could be valuable members of United's first-team squad for the years to come. It would also allow the manager to rest some of his senior players for crucial Premier League game towards the end of the season.
Surely when the United board appointed Van Gaal they asked him to ensure they were back in the Champions League this season. He has achieved that goal but No.1 priority this season is for Van Gaal and his United squad it to challenge for the Premier League title once again. Whilst continuing to re-shape the United squad by clearing out the deadwood that was in the first-team squad when he arrived at Old Trafford in the summer of 2014.
An exit from the Champions League would allow Van Gaal and United to concentrate on a challenge to win their 14th Premier League title. Whilst an exit would see United in the Europa League and face the difficult task of playing on a Thursday night then playing on a Premier League game on the following Sunday. Van Gaal could use the Europa League to give more opportunities to players that he believes could be future first-team players at Old Trafford.