Louis Van Gaal urged to bring back fear factor to Manchester United
Manchester United's Louis van Gaal admits that the club he has managed for almost two years no longer strikes fear into opposition teams.
Van Gaal's admission that the club no longer strikes fear into opposing teams, further undermines the prestige of the self-styled "biggest club in the world", casts additional doubt on Van Gaal's tenure at Old Trafford and is particularly pertinent given that United's next two games are against teams they would previously have expected to swat away.
Tonight they visit League One Shrewsbury in a potential banana-skin fifth-round FA Cup tie - with the winners at home to West Ham in the next round - and on Thursday they face the return leg of their Europa League clash against Danish minnows Midtjylland, with United looking to overturn a 2-1 first-leg defeat.
Both opponents will be hoping to prove Van Gaal's assertion.
Asked if United no longer benefited from the fear factor, the Dutchman confessed: "When you see the last two games (defeats to Sunderland and Midtjylland) it is maybe like that."
Trying to remain positive, he added: "We have to make teams fear us again. We lost my first home game - against Swansea City - and people said the same but we recovered and we ended last season with a very good home record.
"We can do that again, but it is a question of winning matches in a row now."
With 14 players injured or ill and three matches to come in a week - United also play Arsenal at home in the Premier League next Sunday - getting any kind of run together will be difficult.
Van Gaal said he expected Shrewsbury to adopt the same tactics that proved so successful for Midtjylland.
"I have told the players already it will be difficult to bounce back because you cannot continue losing," he said. "The question is how we can lift ourselves for the FA Cup because Shrewsbury will also fight for second balls and play direct and we have to cope.
"But we also have to keep the ball better and not give away unnecessary goals, because Midtjylland's first was unnecessary and we could have won that duel much more easily for their second goal."
When asked if he thought Shrewsbury might actually be overconfident when taking on United tonight, Van Gaal replied: "I hope so because then it is a benefit for us."
Shrewsbury manager Mellon has sympathy for his opposite number.
He said: "When you're a manager, you understand that at certain times you're on your own. There are decisions that have got to be made and you will be held accountable for that and that's me at Fleetwood and Barnsley and Shrewsbury.
"At Manchester United, if Louis van Gaal blinks the world is looking at it and thinking, 'Was that a proper blink or a twitch?' But he will know that goes with the territory. You don't take the United job if you don't believe that is going to happen.
"Somebody said to me about the problems they've got and I said, 'I wish I had Manchester United's problems'."
Mellon, whose Shrews side are the lowest-ranked team left in the FA Cup, insisted ex-Bayern Munich and Barcelona coach Van Gaal remained one of the best in the world, despite his struggles in Manchester.
He added: "Look at his CV. It's ridiculous. Wow. If a lot of managers can do a thousandth of what he's done, you'll have had a great career. What he's doing now is probably using his experiences of what's happened to him before and getting on with the job."