Louis van Gaal refused to take the blame for Manchester United’s latest humiliation as the embattled boss claimed bad luck was the reason for Thursday’s humiliating 2-1 defeat against Danish side FC Midtjylland in the Europa League.
Van Gaal’s side were expected to coast to victory in the last 32, first leg, but they failed to build on Memphis Depay’s first-half goal as strikes from Pione Sisto and Paul Onuachu rocked crisis-torn United.
Just days after United were embarrassed in a 2-1 defeat at Premier League strugglers Sunderland, this was another chastening experience for van Gaal, whose miserable reign hit a new low in the unglamorous surroundings of the MCH Arena.
But van Gaal, who will face renewed calls for his sacking with Jose Mourinho repeatedly linked with his job, insisted United’s latest ill fortune on the injury front was the root cause of the defeat that laid bare the extent of United’s troubles.
Already without injured captain Wayne Rooney, van Gaal feared United were in for a difficult evening when Spain goalkeeper David de Gea was ruled out after suffering a knee injury in the warm-up, meaning a late call-up for deputy Sergio Romero.
“It is the law of Murphy, I think,” van Gaal told BT Sport.
“When you start a game and your goalkeeper is number 14 (on the injury list) then you are not starting like usual.
“When you play with another team every week with other players it doesn’t help.
“A lot of things are happening in the heads of the players. The first goal is deflected, it is unbelievable, it is too much.”
Van Gaal, who revealed De Gea faces a scan to determine the extent of his injury, did concede that his players had lacked the appetite to match Midtjylland’s ferocious work-rate.
“In the second half we don’t win any duels. Any second balls. Then you cannot afford a second goal,” he said.
“Jesse Lingard had two remarkable chances. In certain phases we were not very well organized.”
– Scathing –
United can still spare van Gaal’s blushes with a convincing victory in the second leg at Old Trafford next Thursday, assuming the former Netherlands coach is still in charge by then.
Asked how he would cope with the pressure before United are next in action in the FA Cup fifth round at third-tier Shrewsbury Town on Monday, van Gaal said: “That’s always like that, but it’s not good.
“I thought we had the possibilities to win this game. We can still do it in the second leg.
“It is always possible in football. We have the chance to beat them at home and we have to do that.”
Michael Carrick, United’s stand-in skipper, showed the kind of passion completely absent from his team’s performance when he launched a scathing attack on their display.
“It’s just not good enough. It’s not acceptable. We’ve got to be a lot better,” Carrick said.
“We caused a lot of our own problems. We scored a good goal, but we didn’t really kick on.
“It was there for us to win the game. We should have won that but we go home very disappointed.
“We haven’t played well enough. A performance and a result like that is very disappointing.
“We’ve given ourselves a tougher task than we would have hoped.
“The only positive we can take is that we have a chance to put it right next week.”
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