Friday 20 April 2018

Louis van Gaal: ‘We can’t afford a slow start’ if we want to win the title

Van Gaal warns players to hit ground running or forget title

Wayne Rooney and his teammates must start their Premier League campaign strongly says manager Louis van Gaal
Wayne Rooney and his teammates must start their Premier League campaign strongly says manager Louis van Gaal
Manchester United's Wayne Rooney, center, celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal against FC Barcelona during the first half of an International Champions Cup soccer match in Santa Clara, California

Charlie Rusholme

Louis van Gaal has warned his Manchester United players there will be no excuses for a repeat of last season’s slow start in the Premier League.

United won all six of their pre-season games last summer only to lose one and draw two of their first three league games.

Privately, Van Gaal has insisted United could have challenged Chelsea for the title last season if it hadn’t been for their poor start.

The Dutchman has scaled back this summer’s tour with tomorrow’s game against Paris Saint-Germain their last match practice before facing Tottenham at Old Trafford on August 8. He has specifically requested a free week ahead of the start of the new season.

Hopes

Last year, United played Valencia at Old Trafford after returning from America just days before playing Swansea on the opening day, a game they lost 2-1.

But he has explained to his players their hopes of challenging Chelsea, Manchester City and Arsenal depend on a fast start.

United face Tottenham on the opening weekend of the season before a trip to Aston Villa the following Friday. They then play Newcastle and Swansea before a date with Liverpool at Old Trafford on September 12.

Van Gaal said: “We have already changed a lot of things in relation to this tour.

“The last tour, we were on the other coast with more heat and humidity and that was a negative. It is also hot here, but people say it is not normal.

“We only have two base camps, last year we had to fly and fly with different schedules and time zones each time. We have better training camps this year.

“We had fantastic facilities in Seattle, they were superb, and also at Avaya Stadium and Stanford University, where will train two sessions on Monday.

“Overall, we have a better training camp, but we also won every game last year and it doesn’t say anything.

“We lost our first game against Swansea, so despite the results against Club America, San Jose and Barcelona, all that matters is the game against Tottenham Hotspur.”

Van Gaal claimed he was forced into signing Sergio Romero because of the uncertainty surrounding David de Gea, who could still leave Manchester United for Real Madrid, according to the Dutchman.

Madrid want to sign De Gea, but United insist they will only do a deal with the 10-time European champions if defender Sergio Ramos comes to Old Trafford in return. The Dutchman says it was only logical to sign the Argentinian on a three-year deal given De Gea’s future is still unresolved.

“I think that in our circumstances, with the threat that David de Gea is going to Real Madrid, we have to prepare our season and I think Sergio Romero can fulfil that because you have to handle very quickly when it may happen with David de Gea,” the United manager said.

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