LVG: We didn't deserve to beat Stoke

Draw with Potters raises further questions over United's defence

Stoke City's Ryan Shawcross clears the ball ahead of Manchester United's Wayne Rooney

By Paul Hirst

Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal says his side didn't deserve anything other than a draw in yesterday's Premier League clash at Stoke.

The Dutchman also insisted United must improve their defending of set-pieces after conceding from a dead ball against the Potters.

Peter Crouch headed down a corner for Ryan Shawcross to volley Stoke ahead in the second minute, with United needing Radamel Falcao's equaliser to earn a 1-1 draw.

"We didn't deserve any more than a draw," said the former Netherlands boss. "They were closer to a winning goal than us.

"We had time and space to build play, but we didn't create much."

He added: "We know that is happening. We have had two meetings about it.

"We knew Crouch was heading the ball to a second player, who was totally free. That was very bad."


The draw at the Britannia Stadium was United's third in four games over Christmas and was another instance of points dropped away from home this season.

Van Gaal's side have won eight of the 10 games played at Old Trafford this term, but have won only two of their nine games on the road.

"We have to play better in away matches," added the Dutchman. "In my opinion, there is no difference in away matches to at home because our fans are fantastic. We have to do better."

Apart from Falcao's goal, United had only one other shot on target.

Stoke, meanwhile, hit the post and had a strong penalty claim rejected.

United lost Ashley Young to a hamstring injury during the second half, with Van Gaal admitting the winger could be out for "many weeks".

"I'm not a doctor so we have to wait for tomorrow or the day after," he said.

Meanwhile, Crouch admitted Stoke had to go "back to the old school" and could have been rewarded with three points against United.

Crouch hit the post and was denied a penalty when another header from a corner hit Chris Smalling's hand.

And he said: "I know I won the header cleanly, it was on target and Smalling had his hands up. I thought it was a definite penalty but I'd have to see it again.

"We had chances, we've hit the post, we would have liked to have won it but in the scheme of things maybe a draw was fair.

"With the conditions today it was a little bit back to the old-school days.

"It's another string to our bow, we've got good players now and we can get the ball down and play but we are strong at set-pieces - although we conceded from one today, which was disappointing."

Jonny Evans was particularly thankful to see former team-mate Mame Biram Diouf miss a clear chance after the Northern Ireland international misjudged a long ball.

"It was scrappy, hard to judge the ball with the wind, but that's the challenge for us," said Evans.

"(Diouf) made a bit of a mess of it and I'm thankful for that."

Stoke boss Mark Hughes was frustrated by not just the handball appeal, but another penalty shout after Crouch's header against the woodwork. We've had two penalties not given," he said. "The obvious one was when Crouch headed towards goal and Smalling basically batted the ball down.

"Then when Crouch hits the post, you see Geoff Cameron waiting to put the ball in and he gets taken out."

He said of his side's overall performance: "Tactically we were spot-on, they found it very difficult to get their key players on the ball. I'm disappointed but pleased we've got more points on the board."