Van Gaal's job may rest in Pardew's hands

LONDON • Alan Pardew added to the pressure on Louis van Gaal as the Crystal Palace manager suggested his Manchester United counterpart's future could hinge on their FA Cup final showdown.

Pardew's side booked their first Cup final appearance for 26 years with a 2-1 win over Watford on Sunday and in a delicious twist it is United who once again await them at Wembley on May 21.

It was United's 1990 FA Cup final replay victory over a Palace team featuring Pardew that went a long way to saving Alex Ferguson's job at Old Trafford and paved the way for the club's long run of success under the Scot.

Now history is repeating itself as van Gaal takes United into the final aware that lifting the trophy would be a big boost to his chances of avoiding the sack following a troubled campaign that included numerous reports Jose Mourinho is being lined up to replace him.

Pardew is sympathetic to van Gaal's situation, but that will not stop him trying to make it worse for the Dutchman.

"Louis van Gaal's Manchester United career might rest on this game," Pardew said. "He has had some awful press and I will be glad to see him at Wembley.

"We will have a different game plan against Manchester United, but that is not to say we can't control the game. We deserve to be here."

Palace's win was sealed by Connor Wickham, who headed in the 61st-minute winner after Watford's Troy Deeney cancelled out Yannick Bolasie's opener.

Watford manager Quique Sanchez Flores insisted he did not deserve to have his position scrutinised following a week of speculation that he might be sacked.

Frustrated by Watford's slump in the second half of the season, owners the Pozzo family are said to be considering Flores' position after only one season in charge and their lethargic defeat at Wembley hardly helped his case.

"Everyone is disappointed we lost, but the main target was to be in the Premier League because that is the most important thing for the future of Watford," the Spaniard said.

Palace still require one more positive result to guarantee a fourth successive year in the elite field. Once that has been achieved, Pardew is expected to sign a new long-term deal at Selhurst Park.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 26, 2016, with the headline 'Van Gaal's job may rest in Pardew's hands'. Print Edition | Subscribe