Belfast Telegraph

Winning is all that matters to Manchester United boss Louis Van Gaal

By Paul Hirst

Louis van Gaal thinks Manchester United fans should be happy with their team's recent form and suggested that traffic around Old Trafford - rather than apathy - was one of the reasons why so many supporters left before the end of the dull 1-0 win over Sheffield United.

Thousands of fans streamed out of the stadium on Saturday evening before the end of the FA Cup third-round tie, which the hosts won thanks to a penalty three minutes into stoppage time from Wayne Rooney.

United did not register a shot on target against the League One side until the 69th minute and were booed off at the break.

But Van Gaal insists supporters should be happy with the way their team have returned to winning ways in recent weeks following a run of eight matches without victory.

"You have to be happy as a United fan that we are in the next round and we have won the last two games,'' the United manager said during an edgy press conference ahead of tonight's clash against Newcastle.

When asked why many had left the stadium early, Van Gaal said: ''They are not thinking that we would score, and maybe also because of the traffic. There are many reasons.

"I think the fans have supported our team. It is not an easy time now. How many stadiums were like our stadium, full?

"You can mention how they leave, but you can also mention how they come to the stadium to watch.''

Paul Scholes tore into Van Gaal after the final whistle, claiming the players and the manager looked ''bored''.

Van Gaal refused to respond to the outspoken former United midfielder.

The Dutchman snapped: "What do I have to do now? React to Paul Scholes? Do you want that?''

Scholes' jibes may not have hurt Van Gaal, but the United boss seems to have been affected by the ironic cheers that came when Memphis Depay fired a low shot wide just after he came on in the 60th minute and when Sheffield United goalkeeper George Long made his first save of the match from Matteo Darmian.

"Yeah, I can understand that,'' Van Gaal said. "Because we were not shooting too much or not able to shoot at the goal so much."

Van Gaal repeated the claim he made after the match on Saturday that it was always going to be hard playing against Sheffield United despite the fact that they are ninth in League One having lost to the likes of Crewe, Bury and Colchester this season.

"I think that you always need to take into account how your opponent plays,'' he said. "They defended with 10 behind the ball. It is not easy.''

The 64-year-old used a well-worn phrase to illustrate his claim that United are steadily heading in the right direction.

"It is a process,'' he added. "I have said it many times. We are in that process. We have ups and downs. We have won two times in a row.''

Van Gaal's hopes of registering a third win in succession have been hit by an injury to Bastian Schweinsteiger, who will miss tonight's game at Newcastle because of a knee problem he suffered in the dying stages of Saturday's match.

Marcos Rojo, Luke Shaw and Antonio Valencia are unavailable because of long-term injuries while Phil Jones is likely to miss out because of an ankle problem he sustained in the 2-1 win over Swansea on January 2.

Ashley Young, Morgan Schneiderlin and Michael Carrick were rested for Saturday's game because they had played too many matches and were ''in the red zone'', according to Van Gaal, but all three could return for the trip to St James' Park.

Meanwhile, Steve McClaren is convinced he will get the help he needs during the January transfer window to turn Newcastle's season around.

It has been glaringly obvious for some time that there are not enough goals in McClaren's team with £14.5million summer signing Aleksandar Mitrovic having found the going tough after the injuries which have sidelined Papiss Cisse for much of the campaign and Emmanuel Riviere for all of it to date.

However, now that Bordeaux's Senegal international midfielder Henri Saivet has joined up, McClaren is hopeful that those shortcomings will be addressed.

He said: "It's good because I know what is going on. Sometimes you don't, so we are all involved in the process and hope that will get the job done. If people weren't backing us, I would be worried."

Belfast Telegraph


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