Obvious parallels have been drawn between Sir Alex Ferguson (or just Alex as he was known then) winning the FA Cup and saving his Manchester United career in 1990, with Louis van Gaal’s attempt to lead the same club to said trophy this weekend.
There are so many problems with this comparison, not least the fact that United hadn’t won the league for 23 years ahead of that clash, and wouldn’t for another three years before snagging 13 top-flight titles in the next quarter-decade.
Van Gaal will be judged against Fergie’s legacy, not Ron Atkinson’s, Dave Sexton’s or Tommy Docherty’s, three men the Scot had the good fortune to follow into the Old Trafford hotseat.
By that standard, the ‘Iron Tulip’ isn’t measuring up so well with fourth and fifth place finishes over his two seasons in the North West, and ending the campaign by bagging the FA Cup won’t change things a jot.
United will still be in the Europa League, not the Champions League, which is now on fairly equal footing with the Premier League in terms of teams’ priorities.
Back in 1990, when English sides were still locked out of Europe following the Heysel Stadium disaster, the FA Cup was the clear alternative prize, with 1989/90 champions Liverpool fighting tooth and nail to get past Crystal Palace and set up a double in their 4-3 semi-final defeat.
With Champions League riches on offer that’s not the case anymore, and any hopes Van Gaal might have for redemption should be quashed by the fate of most recent winning gaffers.
Bar Arsene Wenger, who remains at Arsenal after steering his side to the trophy for the past two seasons, none of the previous seven FA Cup-winning managers were still at the victorious clubs two summers later, with four sacked and two let go before the end of the calendar year.
It’s not like the old days, when Fergie could finish all the way down in 13th and still build a dynasty based on FA Cup success.
He might hang on for a while, but it appears the Red Devils haven’t found their new saviour quite yet.