Monday 23 October 2017

Van Gaal to contest FA charge

Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal is to contest an FA charge
Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal is to contest an FA charge

Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal has announced he is to contest the Football Association disrepute charge he was hit with this week.

The veteran Dutch coach attracted the attention of FA disciplinary officials with comments he made about referee Chris Foy after his side's goalless draw at Cambridge in the FA Cup last month.

"You have seen the referee. It's always the same," Van Gaal said after his side were frustrated in the fourth-round clash at the Abbey Stadium on January 23.

Those remarks attracted little attention at the time but they resurfaced on Wednesday - the day after United comfortably won their replay against the League Two side 3-0 - as the charge was issued.

Van Gaal was given until Monday to respond but the 63-year-old has quickly made up his mind that he intends to fight.

Asked if he will be contesting, Van Gaal told a press conference: "Yes, of course. I never said anything wrong. I never say something about the referee, never."

Van Gaal, a former Holland, Ajax, Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss, appears to have taken personal offence, believing the charge is a stain on an otherwise impeccable disciplinary record.

He said: "I am not angry, I am very disappointed. For nearly 30 years a trainer, coach or manager and I have never been charged.

"Up to now I don't think that I said something wrong. I said in our press conference, the same phrases, because I knew in advance (of the tie) that everything (would be) in favour of the underdog.

"It's always like that. I said it in front of the game and I said it after the game, only in the meaning of the general feeling of everybody - everybody for the underdog.

"So I cannot imagine (why) the FA has charged me. But, okay, it's like that."

Van Gaal was then asked if he felt the FA might be making an example of him because he was the United manager.

But he said: "If I say that, then I am maybe rightly charged, so I don't say it."

Van Gaal was speaking at a press conference at Old Trafford to preview his side's Barclays Premier League trip to West Ham on Sunday.

His appearance came shortly after he attended a memorial service outside the stadium to commemorate the 57th anniversary of the Munich air disaster.

Eight United players - members of the club's famed 'Busby Babes' side - were among 23 people killed in the German city en route home from a European Cup game at Red Star Belgrade.

Van Gaal felt it was important to attend and pay his respects.

Van Gaal, who took charge at United last summer, said: "I represent the club nowadays as a manager and I represent my group of players.

"This was also a group of players who gave a lot of joy to the people at that time. I think they played a big part in the history of this club. I think we have to remember that always."

Van Gaal added that he was impressed by the man who sang during the service and read out part of the song.

"'You are the strength and inspiration for those who play your roles today'," he read. "'We look for flair, pace and passion, to play the game United's way'.

"I was happy I was there because of this, and also the impression the people gave to me that I was there. We have made the right decision to be there, out of respect to the players and Matt Busby."

The responses and memories that Munich still evokes is a strong indicator of the magnitude of the club.

Van Gaal finds that inspirational as he looks to lift United back into a position to challenge for honours after the disappointments of last season.

He said: "I think it was impressive for all the people who were there, and also for me. It is 57 years ago but still the people are coming and still they remember. That (kind of thing) is not happening so often (these days). It is good."

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