Saturday 14 December 2019

Delighted Van Gaal apologises for 'too emotional' comedy dive

Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal
Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal

Luke Edwards

Louis van GAAL apologised for resorting to a comedy dive on the Old Trafford touchline to express his frustration about the behaviour of Arsenal's players and put it down to being "too emotional".

Van Gaal will not be charged by the English FA for appearing to mock the fourth official, to the amusement of United's supporters, but the Dutchman admitted he'd been out of line.

"That was too emotional," said Van Gaal after his side's 3-2 win. "At that time, you are a little bit too emotional. It is not good for the referee, linesman, or the fourth official.

"Normally, I'm sitting on my bench and I have a lot of criticism for that. But now I am off my bench and I am getting a lot of criticism.

"But I have apologised and everything is solved I hope. I have to control my emotions."

Van Gaal is rapidly regaining his confidence as his side moved to within three points of the top four, at the end of a week in which they moved into the quarter-finals of the FA Cup and Europa League last 16.

"We have played more of these games, but against Arsenal, it's another level," he said.

"Arsenal is one of the best teams in the Premier League, with very creative players, but you could not see too many chances.


"They created more chances against Barcelona than they did against us and we had Michael Carrick and Danny Blind at centre-back. You could see it was a happy scene for the fans. It was great to be in Old Trafford again for the fans and the players.

"A lot of youngsters are participating and that is in the culture of Manchester United. I think that is one of the reasons they appointed me as manager because I have a lot of experience of that."

Van Gaal praised 18-year-old Marcus Rashford, who made it four goals in two games after scoring twice on his debut against FC Midtjylland last week. "I could not have imagined he would play as well as that.

"He's a striker, coming in to score goals, and the first match is always good. But the second game, he had to do what the manager is willing for him to do and he did it."

Arsene Wenger, meanwhile, remains convinced that Arsenal are still in the title race, but admitted time is running out for his players to prove he is right.

Wenger admitted he was a "bitter loser" following a disappointing afternoon and, while he resisted the temptation to criticise his players after so many underperformed, there were signs his patience is running out.

Arsenal have fallen five points adrift of leaders Leicester City, after closing the gap to just two last weekend with victory over Claudio Ranieri's team and this was not a performance to suggest they are good enough to win the title.

"We are still in the title race, we still have time to close the gap," said an irritable Wenger. "But there is no point feeling sorry for ourselves, our response [to this defeat] has to be quick and it has to be strong. We have dropped three points today and we have to bounce back.

"We do not know what this defeat means yet, we will not know that until the end of the season. I will leave any individual assessment to you [in the media].

"You are big enough and strong enough and intelligent enough to make up your own minds. I want to analyse it again [before I make any comments on individuals.]

"Overall, the regret is having so much of the ball, so much possession, but we conceded three goals away and it's difficult when you're away from home.

"It was a difficult game for us. We put the effort in but we struggled to be dangerous. I need to analyse it again but going 2-0 down so quickly, we had to gamble after that.

"I've no regrets [about the attacking selection]. I'm convinced that Welbeck, Walcott and Sanchez can defend well when it's needed. I don't believe the strikers were at fault for the goals.

"They [United] defended well. They stopped us with little free kicks in the middle of the pitch. From the middle of the pitch, we were not dangerous enough."


Wenger, though, was not impressed by a suggestion Arsenal had been beaten by a second-string United side, even though his opposite number, Louis van Gaal, was deprived of 14 players because of injury.

"Let's not go overboard," Wenger replied. "They still had plenty of millions of pounds worth of talent on the pitch, starting from De Gea in goal.

"The player who is surprising for me, talent-wise, is Rashford. His intelligence in the box, his movement, is great. He could be a very positive surprise for Man United." (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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