Manchester United overcame a mounting injury crisis to oust Shrewsbury Town in the FA Cup fifth round, running out 3-0 winners at New Meadow.
Their victory set up a quarter final tie at home to West Ham and simultaneously saw the Red Devils shorten into 7/2 to claim the crown for the first time since 2004.
The result was much needed as far as boss Louis van Gaal was concerned, with enormous speculation suggesting defeat to the League One side would’ve spelled the end for the Dutchman.
Despite the fifth-round success, universally expectation dictates Van Gaal will still depart Old Trafford at the end of 2015/16, with a place in next season’s Champions League looking ever more difficult to attain.
United are six points adrift of fourth-place Manchester City in the Premier League at present, while they trail Danish minnows Midtjylland 2-1 in the Europa League last 32.
Even if Van Gaal can mastermind a recovery and book United a place in Europe’s top club competition next season, probability says he’ll be sacked regardless with in-demand super coach Jose Mourinho widely tipped to take over in the summer.
With his inevitable demise in mind, the veteran tactician would be smartest abandoning both Premier and Europa League pursuits and pooling the limited resources he has to focus on an FA Cup conquest.
After all, triumph in this competition has proved an effective resuscitator for big clubs struggling to meet their trophy-winning remits.
Arsenal provide an obvious example; they’re expected to win the Premier League title for this first time in 12 years this term after claiming successive FA Cups in the two campaigns that preceded this one.
Similarly, Man City’s ascent to powerhouse status started with the 2010/11 conquest of this competition under Roberto Martinez.
Chelsea can also attest to the FA Cup’s uplifting effects, which they used to their advantage during Guus Hiddink’s first interim tenure in charge.
He arrived at Stamford Bridge midway through the 2008/09 season with the Blues clinging on to fourth place a year after relinquishing the title to Manchester United.
The prospective of three campaigns without a league win may have been difficult to conceive for the Chelsea fans who’d grown accustomed to divisional dominance under Jose Mourinho, but Hiddink’s victory in the FA Cup averted this potential crisis, preceding their landing a double the following year under Carlo Ancelotti.