Saturday 16 December 2017

Watching poor Manchester United performances bores me as well, admits Louis van Gaal

Manchester United's Dutch manager Louis van Gaal
Manchester United's Dutch manager Louis van Gaal

Ian Herbert

The Manchester United manager, Louis van Gaal, has admitted that his team bore him on occasions, though he stood by their moribund style of play in the teeth of fierce criticism yesterday and insisted that supporters who left the club’s weekend FA Cup tie early did so to beat the bad traffic.

The former United midfielder Paul Scholes has said that both United’s players and Van Gaal looked “bored” in the desperately dull 1-0 win over Sheffield United at Old Trafford. But the Dutchman, whose side tonight face a Newcastle United outfit which has managed only one goal in five games, said that the ironic Old Trafford cheers for Memphis Depay’s 66th-minute shot against the advertising hoardings on Saturday was a positive sign, reflecting the way fans are engaged with the club.

“There are also matches where I’m very bored or angry because we are not disorganising our opponents’ defence but that is football,” said Van Gaal, who is without midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger tonight because he sustained a knee injury on Saturday. “[Supporters] can criticise but they can also cheer the players. Now they have been ironic [against Sheffield United], sometimes they were, but that’s also an expression of the fans and that’s good. Because also the players were frustrated and the fans are frustrated.”

As usual, Van Gaal’s complex English structures made his meaning hard to follow at times. But in a generally prickly exchange, he pointed out that United had not always played beautiful football in Sir Alex Ferguson’s era, either, and made it clear that he believes his possession-based philosophy is appropriate for his club. “We can’t always play fantastic football and that was also the case in former days when it didn’t happen. I’m sorry about that but it is like that,” he said.

Questioned on why he was not seen out of the dug-out, urging players on, at the weekend, he said: “With the Cup match also a lot of Sheffield United supporters were yelling, so it’s not so easy to make yourself understood.”

To the suggestion that the style must be anathema to his assistant Ryan Giggs, he said the Welshman had the chance to challenge it at every team meeting. “You have to ask Ryan Giggs,” he said. “He has a lot of influence in our decisions because I communicate every decision with my staff, so he can have a big influence.”

Defeats tonight and at Anfield on Sunday lunchtime would plunge Van Gaal back into the kind of crisis which led him privately to seek assurances from the Old Trafford board over Christmas – and leave United adrift of the top four.

He admitted that creativity was “our difficulty” but pointed out that the defence – on which he wants to build the team – is now robust. “Our difficulty is not our defensive organisation, that you can see, all the stats are in that direction,” he said.

But when asked why many had left the stadium early on Saturday, Van Gaal said: “They are not thinking that we would score, I think, and maybe also because of the traffic that they leave the stadium a few minutes early.

“There are many reasons. I think the fans have supported our team. It is not an easy time now, so I think the fans were there also. How many stadiums were like our stadium, full, I think? You can mention how they leave, but you can also mention how they come to the stadium to watch this FA Cup match.”

Van Gaal refused to respond to Scholes’ comments. “What do I have to do now? React to Paul Scholes? Do you want that?” he said.

Independent News Service

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