Thursday 22 March 2018

Paul Scholes criticism 'will never hurt me,' insists Louis van Gaal

Louis van Gaal gives instructions to his Manchester United players during their defeat to Middlesbrough
Louis van Gaal gives instructions to his Manchester United players during their defeat to Middlesbrough

Mark Ogden

Louis van Gaal has renewed his verbal feud with Paul Scholes and urged Manchester United's strikers to "cope better" with the pressure of scoring goals after the former Old Trafford midfielder dismissed the Dutchman's team as lacking "creativity and risk".

United travel to Crystal Palace today having scored just four goals in their last five games in all competitions, with Wednesday's 0-0 draw at home to Championship club Middlesbrough ending in a Capital One Cup penalty shoot-out defeat.

The absence of flair and excitement in recent performances has prompted Scholes to claim he would not have enjoyed playing under Van Gaal who "it seems he doesn't want players to beat men". But after engaging in a similar row with Scholes last season, Van Gaal insisted he would take no notice of the 40-year-old's comments.


"You have an expression, sticks and stones can break my bones, but names will never hurt me," Van Gaal said. "You understand the meaning of this? It has no effect, he doesn't have the responsibility.

"Why does he say it? For the benefit of the club or for himself? When you are a legend, you must speak with the manager, or his friend Ryan Giggs, or Ed Woodward, but he is paid by BBC or Sky to say some things. The compliments? That is not important either, because I know that if we lose, lose, lose I shall be finished. It's a process, it takes three years, but when Mr Scholes says I have to go, then I must go, but that is not his responsibility, it is that of Mr Woodward and the Glazers."

Statistics which show that United have more passes-per-shot and passes-per-chance-created than any other Premier League team appear to support Scholes's claim that Van Gaal's team lacks penetration.

United also top the table of backward passes in the Premier League, but when it was put to Van Gaal that Scholes's remarks chime with the sentiments of the club's supporters, the manager claimed the backing of the United fans proves otherwise.

"You think so?" Van Gaal said. "That is your opinion. We play for the fans and you see the stadium is still full for the Capital One Cup. I think United is always entertaining.

"I read the papers and I see that it is boring, but I don't think there are more spectators in another stadium than ours. But we lost (against Middlesbrough) and, as a manager of Manchester United, you know you shall have a hard time."

United travel to Palace lying fourth, two points adrift of leaders Manchester City, following last Sunday's goalless derby draw at Old Trafford. Against both City and Middlesbrough, United spurned clear chances and Van Gaal says that his attackers must do better.

"I train a lot of times in the third and fourth phase, that is how you help players," Van Gaal said. "They are human beings and they want to score goals, but they maybe want it too much."

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