Tuesday 20 March 2018

Tetchy Louis Van Gaal convinced he can lead Man United to silverware

Louis van Gaal is adamant he remains the right man to lead Manchester United
Louis van Gaal is adamant he remains the right man to lead Manchester United

Louis van Gaal has no doubt he is the right man to lead Manchester United despite the club's early exit from the Champions League.

United crashed out of Europe's biggest club competition - one they have won three times - on Tuesday when they lost 3-2 in Wolfsburg.

Van Gaal's critics again railed against the Dutchman in the wake of the defeat. Paul Scholes labelled United "average" while his former team-mate Rio Ferdinand said dropping into the Europa League was "an embarrassment".

But Van Gaal launched an impassioned defence of his management at his weekly press conference.

When asked if he doubted his ability to win trophies with United, Van Gaal said: "No. I don't have any doubts."

The United manager admitted his players were struggling to deal with the expectations on their shoulders.

He said: "You can lose and you can win in sport, and you have to accept that, as a player and as a manager, but you have to work very hard and I am working very hard and my players are working very hard and doing everything we can do.

"The problem is that we have to meet the expectations and the expectations at a club like Manchester United are very high, and that's our problem."

Van Gaal was visibly annoyed when asked if he would be happy if he just won the Europa League this season.

"Just? You think it's just? I'm not thinking like that," he snapped.

"I have already won the Europa League with Ajax in my first season, and I was very proud of that.

"For me, the Euro (Europa) League is a big competition."

Van Gaal hopes the blow of exiting the Champions League after being handed a relatively easy group will not have a profound effect on the confidence of his players.

"I try to (lift their spirits) but of course, the players have to do that also by themselves, they are also the professionals," Van Gaal told MUTV.

"They need to use their tools to lift them up and we have a lot to fight for, I think. So we are very close in the Premier League to the top. We can fight for the FA Cup and fight also for the Europa League, so I think we have enough to fight for."

Van Gaal received yet more bad news this week when Bastian Schweinsteiger was suspended for three matches for violent conduct following an elbow on Winston Reid in United's 0-0 draw against West Ham last weekend.

The German played poorly at the Volkswagen Arena, but his absence will be felt strongly as United have a crippling injury list that contains eight players.

Morgan Schneiderlin returns for Saturday's game at Bournemouth after overcoming a hip injury, but Wayne Rooney, Marcos Rojo, Phil Jones, Ander Herrera, Luke Shaw and Antonio Valencia remain out.

Matteo Darmian and Chris Smalling are also unavailable after suffering hamstring and groin injuries respectively at Wolfsburg.

"It is not so good," Van Gaal said when asked about the fitness of his squad.

"We have eight injured players because Darmian and also Smalling we can add to this list, and Schweinsteiger is also suspended, so it's nine players who are not able to play.

"Schneiderlin is coming back, that's not a problem, but we have a list of eight players injured and Rojo has been operated on this week and it takes a long time.

"These injuries are very heavy - Shaw and Valencia have also been operated on and that's our problem."

Press Association

Sport Newsletter

The best sport action straight to your inbox every morning.

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport