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Van Gaal sees Manchester United at their worst in win

By Andy Hampson

Manchester United triumphed in Louis van Gaal's first home match as manager as substitute Marouane Fellaini's late goal saw them defeat Valencia 2-1 at Old Trafford. The new boss was, however, less impressed with United's display even if he could take confidence from the final outcome.

Darren Fletcher's deflected 49th-minute strike put the Red Devils in front after their captain-for-the-night Wayne Rooney missed a penalty in the first half, hitting the post.

Rodrigo Moreno made the most of ponderous United defending when he fired in from close range to equalise in the 71st minute when the ball was inadvertently sent his way from a free-kick by the outstretched leg of Tom Cleverley.

Fellaini, introduced with just under 15 minutes remaining for his first appearance of pre-season, struck the winner when he capitalised on a mix-up in the Valencia defence to turn the ball home in stoppage time.

The Belgium midfielder, not previously involved under Van Gaal this summer having been rested due to his involvement in the latter stages of the World Cup, struggled last term and has been linked with a move to Napoli.

"I think it was our worst match today," said Van Gaal.

"We did not play to the capacity that we showed in the United States too much.

"There were a lot of wrong choices, wrong passes. We didn't press so good, but I think Valencia is a very good team, very comfortable on the ball and not so easy to press against. In spite of that we have dominated the game and only for 15 minutes in the second half were we not dominating.

"I think at the end we were the winners because we were fighting until the last minute and that is a good signal.

"We are at this moment fitter than our opponents and you could see that and also the substitutions helped of course.

"Fellaini and Januzaj have only been with us one week, one and a half weeks so they cannot play more minutes.

"They did reasonably well but they can do better I believe, but it is a start for them and also there were four debuts today.

"It's not easy to play at Old Trafford for the first time so I'm pleased with how they have done against a very good team."

Van Gaal also enjoyed his first experience on the Old Trafford sidelines and promised an improved display in Saturday's Premier League opener against Swansea.

"It was fantastic," he said. "On the pitch they are shouting and screaming your name so yeah, but it's also a big pressure.

"They expect a lot. You cannot in three or four weeks change everything and the players cannot change either so we have to wait and see and develop. We need time.

"We've won every game until now and that's fantastic when you see our opponents so we have confidence to play against Swansea City, but we have a lot of injuries now.

"We don't have to forget that (Jonny) Evans was injured, (Luke) Shaw was injured, (Antonio) Valencia was injured and these are three defenders so we have to wait and see if they can play on Saturday, but the main thing is we have won in spite of playing our worst game."

United's man-of-the-match Phil Jones admits the team is still learning van Gaal's new system, but he defender their 100 per cent record in pre-season shows they are ready for the new Premier League campaign to start.

"It was a great game for us to test ourselves against a top Valencia team," said Jones.

"At times they caused us a few problems, but we worked well and battled well. We could've played better in stages, but we deserved to win.

"It's been a great pre-season for us. We're learning a new system, we're still learning but we're enjoying it.

"We've capped off a good pre-season and we're looking forward to the start of the season now.

"It's the boss's first game here and the first game for a few of the young lads too. I thought they were terrific and that only stands us in good stead for the season."

Van Gaal prefers to play a back three with wing-backs pushing on, and Jones is among those who has found his role in the team changed.

"I think we're working well," he added. "We're watching a lot of videos and working in training and games and we're improving all the time.

"We're just looking forward to the start of the season now."

Belfast Telegraph


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