Sunday 23 October 2016

Van Gaal blames 'Law of Murphy' for defeat to Danish minnows

Tim Rich

Published 19/02/2016 | 02:30

Louis van Gaal (AP)
Louis van Gaal (AP)

After one of the most humiliating defeats in Manchester United's European history, Louis van Gaal admitted the club's supporters were justified in heaping crude abuse on their players. At the end of the 2-1 loss to Danish side Midtjylland in the Europa League, many of the 800 fans chanted: "We are f**king shit." Van Gaal said he had sympathy with them.

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"The fans can criticise," said the Manchester United manager. "When you see the second half, then maybe they are right. We have to improve and then maybe the fans shall support us again. We have seen that in the 18 months I have been here."

What made the defeat worse was that David de Gea twisted his knee in the warm-up to become the 14th member of Van Gaal's squad to be ruled out with injury.

The United goalkeeper injured his knee when he caught his studs in the turf in Herning and was replaced by Sergio Romero who will continue in goal for Monday's FA Cup fifth-round tie at League One Shrewsbury.

Ironically, Romero, who has not played for United in four months, made several world-class saves to give United a chance of progressing to the next round.

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"It is the Law of Murphy," said Van Gaal. "When you have a list of 13 injured players and then a few minutes before the game you add another one to the list, then it becomes very difficult to cope. We have to cope with a list of 14 injured players and that is not easy. I now have to make a different line-up every week and that is not contributing to our confidence."

What depressed Van Gaal was the quality of United's second-half performance against a Midtjylland side whose last competitive game had been in December. "I have to say that in the second half Midtjylland were winning every second ball," he said. "That is very disappointing because we knew in advance that this is the key to the game. Then they scored and it was a little bit unnecessary in my opinion."

Van Gaal agreed that United's defence had not coped well with Midtjylland's giant 6ft 7in striker Paul Onuachu, who scored the second goal, although he did point out that their first had been deflected past Romero.

Although United took an away goal from the first leg, their captain, Michael Carrick, said performances would have to improve radically for them to make the last 16.

"It is not good enough," he said. "It is not acceptable. The performance and the result are not good enough and it has got to get a lot better. We caused a lot of our own problems. We scored a good goal and then didn't kick on.

"The fans were there for us to win the game and we didn't and with that result and that performance we are going home very disappointed. The only positive is that we have an away goal and the second leg next week. Of course, it is not going to be easy but playing at home we still fancy our chances."

Elsewhere, Brighton are annoyed with Van Gaal for revealing that striker James Wilson can be taken back from his loan spell on the south coast.

There is a concern it could affect the form of the player and thereby the promotion-chasing club. There had been an agreement between the clubs to keep the possibility of a recall private.

It was confirmed on Wednesday that Wayne Rooney will be out of action for at least six weeks because of a knee injury leaving United short of striking options, with Will Keane, 23, the only available out-and-out centre-forward in the squad.

Questions about that led Van Gaal to reveal he can recall Wilson from his loan at Brighton, but the Dutch coach also implied that he will not do so - and his words have angered officials at the Championship club.

"At this point, I can call James Wilson back, but at this point I have possibilities with Will Keane and Anthony Martial," Van Gaal said. "Also there is Memphis Depay." (© Independent News Service)

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