Belfast Telegraph

Now Manchester United can win the Premier League: Louis Van Gaal

By Ian Herbert

Manchester United manager Louis Van Gaal has insisted that his side can win the Premier League title after beating fierce rivals Liverpool 1-0 at Anfield.

Wayne Rooney's 78th-minute strike - United's only shot on target yesterday - settled a game low on quality and eased pressure that had been building on Van Gaal.

United, in fifth place, are seven points behind leaders Arsenal, but Van Gaal believes defeating Liverpool can spark a late charge for glory.

"We have a lot of matches still to go," said the Dutchman. "We started 2016 very good with a lot of wins and I think this game will give a big boost to the players and the fans, and everyone in the environment of Manchester United.

"We have to continue, which is not so easy, but we can do it."

The narrow victory was Van Gaal's fourth consecutive success against Liverpool. He admitted given the context of the game with many United fans wanting him out that it may have been his best day as manager.

"Maybe in that perspective you are right," he said. "There are matches we have played much better than so in that perspective I can't say it is a good day because Liverpool dominated in the first half."

For Liverpool's manager, Jürgen Klopp, there was only frustration. "It's really bad," the German said.

“It’s a derby and you only have one job to do — to win it. That’s the only possibility to be satisfied after the game. United at this moment will be happy. You can talk about their performance — and it wasn’t that good — but they can be happy.

“We played better but feel frustrated because there were many things that were good, but our finishing was not good otherwise we would have scored a goal.

“Set-play was not good defending but it was unlucky because we had changed a few positions moments before.

“But three mistakes around the goal were too much against a team of the quality of Manchester United.

“In this moment it is only frustrating, which is how it should be.”

The home side’s weakness seemed to be their lack of a striker, with James Milner and Jordan Henderson finding themselves with the best goalscoring opportunities.

But despite Klopp having no idea when Daniel Sturridge will be fit and being so uncertain about Christian Benteke that he gave him only seven minutes, the German refused to say that he needed a new player.

“I think the smallest of our problems was our centre-forward,” he said.

“[Roberto] Firmino again played a good game. He is a real centre-forward. It’s easy to say with another player we would have scored, but we should not think about it because we don’t have other players.”

Van Gaal said that United had pinpointed Liverpool’s weakness as being a team of short players, with Marouane Fellaini’s aerial presence proving critical to the goal.

“But that is not only a weakness of Liverpool,” he said. “Liverpool have a small team in height, we have that also. Today, I’m asking always for indirect corners for my players because I think it is more difficult to organise against.

“But I have to admit we survived the first half because Liverpool were more aggressive, we could not create anything. They have created in the first half three chances and that was surviving, but to beat Liverpool is always important.

“When I see this game then I think we can still improve but it was still good enough to win at Liverpool away.”

The fact United were able to leave Anfield with three points was largely down to David de Gea, who was by far the busier goalkeeper.

However, although the Spain international was named man of the match, Van Gaal saw nothing but De Gea’s usual high standards.

“He is always reaching a very high level so I am very happy, but I cannot say that today he has done a lot,” he said.

“He has stopped the balls that he had to stop. Maybe the one with one hand (from Emre Can in the second half), maybe but I think he has to save it. I think a goalkeeper has to do it.

“I demand it and I demand it also of the players.

“That is why he is playing for Manchester United.”

Belfast Telegraph


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