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No more penalties for Van Persie

Published 03/05/2015

Louis van Gaal's men were frustrated by West Brom at Old Trafford
Louis van Gaal's men were frustrated by West Brom at Old Trafford

Louis van Gaal has relieved Robin van Persie of penalty-taking duties for Manchester United following his miss in the 1-0 defeat to West Brom.

The Baggies recorded successive victories at Old Trafford for the first time since 1959 after Chris Brunt's 63rd minute free-kick deflected off Jonas Olsson and flew past David de Gea.

Van Persie had the chance to grab a valuable point for United 11 minutes later when referee Anthony Taylor ruled Saido Berahino had handled Antonio Valencia's cross in his own box.

But Boaz Myhill saved the striker's effort and United went on to lose their third successive match, leaving them four points above fifth-placed Liverpool with three games left.

Van Persie took the penalty because Wayne Rooney missed his previous attempt at Liverpool. And now that the former Arsenal striker has failed to score from the spot, Van Gaal is looking for a new penalty taker.

"No, he is now at the end of the road," the United boss said when asked if Van Persie would continue taking penalties.

"It is always (like that). Wayne has missed also so when you miss you are at the bottom again."

United's struggles in front of goal worry Van Gaal.

"It's a concern now [a lack of goals]," said the Dutchman, who conceded he is likely to be without injured midfielder Michael Carrick for next week's game at Crystal Palace.

Myhill always had a feeling he would save Van Persie's effort.

"I can't take any credit for (the save)," the Baggies goalkeeper said.

"Our goalkeeping coach Jonathan Gould drew me up a list before the game and said different players go different ways in the main and I made up my mind that if Van Persie took a penalty I would go that way and well done to him."

Despite his penalty heroics, Myhill may leave the club this summer.

Albion have yet to exercise the option they have to extend his deal beyond June for another 12 months and he says is in the dark over his future.

"I have heard nothing from the club yet. I don't know what's happening," said the 32-year-old, who has been in goal since Ben Foster suffered a season-ending knee injury in March.

"I will wait and see until the club put something in front of me and we will take it from there.

"I want to stay. The ball is in the club's court."

Myhill had little to do all afternoon. United had a jaw-dropping 80 per cent of possession, but could not find their way through a compact West Brom team that operated with four centre-backs and a five-man midfield.

For the man who won the free-kick that led to the goal, Darren Fletcher, it was a strange experience returning to Old Trafford for the first time since his 20-year association with United ended in January.

"I walked out of the dressing room and I was stood on the wrong side of the tunnel and had to be told to move over to the other side," the former United midfielder said.

"Old habits die hard."

Fletcher won four league titles and the Champions League during his glittering career with United.

On the evidence of Saturday's performance the team he left behind has a long way to go before they can even think about bringing in any kind of silverware next year.

Too often United played the ball sideways or chipped into the box hoping for the best. There was a lack of cutting edge up front, with only Ashley Young proving a real handful for the visitors.

Fletcher admits improvement is needed at his old club if expectations are to be met next season.

"They have to up it a level," the Baggies captain said.

"The aim for United this season was top four.

"I hate even saying accepting top four (is okay) but the fans and everyone will maybe accept it for one season.

"But they need to be challenging for the league after that. Any United side talking about accepting the top four is just not good enough."

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