Thursday 29 September 2016

Pitch was 'big concern' - Van Gaal

Published 18/07/2015 | 08:47

Louis van Gaal was unhappy with the state of the pitch in Seattle
Louis van Gaal was unhappy with the state of the pitch in Seattle

Louis van Gaal criticised the state of the pitch at the CenturyLink Field in Seattle after Manchester United beat Club America on the same surface that hosted a One Direction concert earlier this week.

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United made a solid start to their defence of the International Champions Cup in the United States with a 1-0 win over their Mexican opponents thanks to a fifth-minute header from new boy Morgan Schneiderlin.

Schneiderlin and fellow debutants Memphis Depay, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Matteo Darmian played well in an otherwise uninspiring game that was not helped by the state of the playing surface at the home of MLS side Seattle Sounders and NFL franchise Seattle Seahawks.

Sounders and organisers of the International Champions Cup - a pre-season tournament which United won last season - held talks before the match about placing a layer of turf on top of the artificial surface at the stadium.

It is not known who made the final call to add the layer of turf, but it was clear that Van Gaal was not happy with the quality of the surface.

"It was not good. It was difficult," the United manager said.

"The first surface is artificial and natural grass over (the top).

"It is always moving. You have seen a lot of players were... It is not so easy. You can get more and more injuries. It was a big concern."

An official from the Sounders admitted the turf may have been laid before the sell-out One Direction concert took place at the 67,000-seater venue on Wednesday night.

Van Gaal feels organisers of the International Champions Cup have failed to provide adequate playing surfaces for his team for the last two seasons.

"It was also (like that) last season against Real Madrid," said Van Gaal, referencing United's pre-season match in Ann Arbor last summer.

"We also played (there) in such circumstances. That is the difference in the USA.

"In American Football that kind of stuff is more important. In England we have Old Trafford and it is only for football. No One Direction entertainment. That is the difference.

"But in England we live for football. Here they live for American Football, baseball and basketball. It is different."

The surface was nothing like the ones the Seahawks have provided for United at their training base in Bellevue this week.

Van Gaal said: "The training facilities are fantastic.

"We have been really well received by Seattle Seahawks and also the football club.

"Everybody is fantastic. The pitches are fantastic. We have to play football on such a pitch. Tonight we could not play on such a pitch. "That is a pity because the ball and the pitch are very important."

Sam Johnstone started in goal for United, who made 11 changes at half-time, as David de Gea was injured.

Van Gaal said the injury to the Real Madrid target was not serious.

"De Gea and (Antonio) Valencia have minor injuries," he said. "We cannot take any risk in the preparation."

There was praise from the Dutchman for Schneiderlin, who looped a header into the far corner of the net in the fifth minute from Juan Mata's cross.

"We have practiced this with him," Van Gaal said. "He scored five goals last season.

"I was very pleased with the performance. But it is also a fact that Club America don't have many good headers.

"We could know in advance our benefit was there."

Having ditched Robin van Persie and Radamel Falcao this, Van Gaal appears short on numbers up front.

On Saturday he played Depay, usually a winger, in the number 10 position just behind Wayne Rooney in a 4-2-3-1 formation.

Van Gaal does not seem in a rush to buy a new striker, but Van Gaal also hinted he could enter the market for a forward if he deems it necessary.

"I am not worried about depth of forwards. We still have Rooney. He can play in the striker's position," Van Gaal said.

"We also have Chicharito (Javier Hernandez), (James) Wilson and maybe a surprise, you never know. It is a process. I am not worried about that position."

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