Manchester United's senior players reportedly expect manager Louis van Gaal to stay in his job until "at least the end of the season."
According to Samuel Luckhurst in the Manchester Evening News, the Dutchman is not expected to be shown the door with several games remaining like David Moyes was in 2014.
The report added that Jose Mourinho believes he has a "gentleman's agreement" to succeed Van Gaal in the summer, a scenario that is still looking likely even after an excellent run of games in which United have beaten Shrewsbury Town in the FA Cup, FC Midtjylland in the UEFA Europa League and Arsenal in the Premier League.
Ahead of the Shrewsbury match on Feb. 22, Van Gaal's position as Red Devils boss was in serious danger following a defeat in the Premier League to Sunderland and a 2-1 loss in the Europa League last-32 first leg to Midtjylland.
United's UEFA Champions League hopes for next season were hanging by a thread, and it was the mathematical impossibility of qualifying for Europe's top club competition that eventually saw Moyes sacked with four games remaining of the 2013-14 season.
Mourinho looked almost a guarantee to take over from Van Gaal—perhaps even during the current term—with Bleacher Report's Dean Jones outlining the potential advantages of hiring the Portuguese:
Just over a week later, though, and the Manchester outfit are safely through to the last 16 of the Europa League—where they will face archrivals Liverpool—in the quarter-finals of the FA Cup and just three points off the top four in the Premier League.
Their recent performances have also been more like the United of old, with genuine attacking intent noticeable having been absent for so much of Van Gaal's reign.
The 3-2 defeat of Arsenal saw Old Trafford in buoyant mood as 18-year-old academy graduate Marcus Rashford scored twice on his Premier League debut having also bagged a double in his first senior appearance against Midtjylland.
For the first time in a long time the United crowd were behind their manager, not least when he took a theatrical tumble while remonstrating with the fourth official, per the Times' Rory Smith:
Rory Smith @RorySmith
Louis van Gaal gets a huge cheer from Old Trafford for remonstrating with 4th official. Threw in a diving demonstration for good measure.2/28/2016, 3:38:31 PM
It still seems unlikely that Van Gaal will remain manager of United until the end of his contract in 2017, but with the support of the senior players he should well remain until the end of the current campaign.
If United's current good form continues, and they end up securing a spot in next season's Champions League—either by a top-four Premier League finish or winning the Europa League—Van Gaal may yet be given more time than many expected.
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