Louis van Gaal played down the scale of the storm gathering around Manchester United and claimed that expectations of the Old Trafford club need to be reassessed.
Van Gaal’s management of United has come under closer scrutiny following his team’s exit from the Champions League at the group stage following their 3-2 defeat at Wolfsburg on Tuesday night. The former European champions are now heading for the Europa League, but van Gaal insists that winning that competition will not be straight-forward with the status of United, and the level of European competition, much changed in recent years.
Van Gaal said:
“We are now in the Europa League and we have to win the Europa League but that is not easy. I can say that in advance but nobody hears me because they don’t want to hear.
“A club as Manchester United has to win. That’s the past. You have to analyze the club now and you cannot compare it with 10 years ago. There is an evolution in European football.
“We have to work hard to win that. I have already won the Europa (Uefa) Cup with Ajax in my first season, and I was very proud of that. For me, the Europa League is a big competition.”
United have failed to win any of their last four games including their defeat in Wolfsburg but remain fourth in the Premier League, three points behind leaders Leicester City ahead of their trip to Bournemouth on Saturday evening. However, their results and style of play continue to come in for criticism from former players, pundits and supporters.
United have not a won a trophy since the last of their 20 top-flight titles in 2013, but van Gaal insists there is no turmoil within the club:
“You can lose and you can win in sport, and you have to accept that, as a player and as a manager.
“But you have to work very hard and I am working very hard and my players are working very hard and doing everything we can do.
“The problem is that we have to meet the expectations and the expectations at a club like Manchester United are very high, and that’s our problem.
“I work here and my players are working here, I have a board who works here, so you have to manage that you have good results and that you are progressing.
“We are doing that, but in the outside world I think it’s more of a problem than in our inside world.”
Meanwhile, van Gaal said he will wait to hear from Ryan Giggs whether there is any truth in the speculation linking United’s assistant manager with the vacancy created at Swansea by the sacking of Garry Monk.
United are without nine players for their trip to Bournemouth with Bastian Schweinsteiger starting a three-match ban after the Germany international accepted an FA charge of violent conduct for putting an arm into the face of West Ham defender Winston Reid in last Saturday’s 0-0 draw with West Ham.
Midfielder Morgan Schneiderlin returns following the damaging defeat in Wolfsburg, but captain Wayne Rooney remains sidelined with an ankle injury and is joined on the absent list by defenders Chris Smalling and Matteo Darmian, who both picks up knocks in Germany.
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