Louis Van Gaal blames humiliating defeat on Manchester United's injury hell
After the most humiliating defeat in Manchester United's European history, Louis van Gaal admitted the club's supporters were justified in heaping crude abuse on their players.
At the end of the 2-1 loss to Danish side Midtjylland in the Europa League, many of the 800 fans made their feelings known with expletive-ridden chanting and manager Van Gaal said he had sympathy with them.
"The fans can criticise," said the Manchester United boss.
"When you see the second half, then maybe they are right. We have to improve and then maybe the fans shall support us again.
"We have seen that in the 18 months I have been here."
What made the defeat worse was that goalkeeper David de Gea twisted his knee in the warm-up to become the 14th member of Van Gaal's squad to be ruled out with injury.
The Spaniard injured his knee when he caught his studs in the turf and was replaced by Sergio Romero.
Ironically, Romero, who has not played for United in four months, made several world-class saves to give his team a chance of progressing to the next round.
“It is the law of Murphy,” said Van Gaal.
“When you have a list of 13 injured players and then a few minutes before the game you add another one to the list, then it becomes very difficult to cope.
“We have to cope with a list of 14 injured players and that is not easy. I now have to make a different line-up every week and that is not contributing to our confidence.” What depressed Van Gaal was the quality of United’s second-half performance against a Midtjylland side whose last competitive game had been in December.
“I have to say that in the second half Midtjylland were winning every second ball,” he said.
“That is very disappointing because we knew in advance that this is the key to the game. Then they scored and it was a little bit unnecessary in my opinion.”
Van Gaal agreed that United’s defence had not coped well with Midtjylland’s giant 6ft 7in striker Paul Onuachu, who scored the second goal, although he did point out that their first had been deflected past Romero.
On his injured keeper, the manager added: “David de Gea has a knee problem so we have to wait and see. We will investigate that with a scan.
“A lot of things are happening in the heads of the players. The first goal is deflected, it is unbelievable.”
Van Gaal also admitted that sidelined skipper Wayne Rooney may have made his knee injury worse by playing through the pain last weekend.
When it was then put to Van Gaal that Rooney had played the full duration of Saturday’s defeat to Sunderland rather than coming off, the Dutchman said: “That’s typical Wayne.
“He’s a guy who wants to go until the end — if he’s feeling pain he doesn’t want to go off. He wants to win. That’s a fantastic attitude, but sometimes it’s also bad for his body, but you cannot say (if he made the injury worse by staying on) because he didn’t know when it happened.”
Although United took an away goal from the first leg, their captain, Michael Carrick, said performances would have to improve radically for them to make the last 16.
“It is not good enough,” he said. “It is not acceptable. The performance and the result are not good enough and it has got to get a lot better. We caused a lot of our own problems. We scored a good goal and then didn’t kick on.
“The fans were there for us to win the game and we didn’t, and with that result and that performance we are going home very disappointed.”