Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal reacted angrily to suggestions that his club’s supporters had voted with their feet by missing a 2-0 victory over Crystal Palace at Old Trafford.
The Premier League side announced a near-capacity crowd of 75,277 for the win which maintained their bid to finish in the top four.
But that figure includes season ticket holders, regardless of whether or not they attend, and there were uncharacteristic empty seats at Old Trafford as Italian full-back Matteo Darmian scored a stunner after Damien Delaney’s own goal.
Man Utd 'still ahead' of Tottenham, says Van Gaal
“I didn’t see a lot of empty seats,” snapped the Dutchman. “But you saw that because you wanted to see it.”
However, Van Gaal did see club captain Wayne Rooney continue his comeback from two months out with a knee injury in a deeper midfield role.
“No player has a fixed position. I use a player where I think they can give a contribution in that game. It was more of a midfield role today also because of the way Crystal Palace were playing,” he said.
“I don’t want to change [Marcus] Rashford so I have to look for another position for Rooney. He played there also last year. I am very happy with the way he performed.”
Red Devils can make top four, says Van Gaal
Rashford, the exciting teenage striker, suffered a slight contact injury against Palace, as did defender Chris Smalling, although Van Gaal is hopeful both will recover in time to play against Everton in tomorrow’s FA Cup semi-final at Wembley.
Klopp keeps cool after Liverpool’s derby romp
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp refused to get carried away after his rampant side crushed neighbours Everton 4-0 in a one-sided Merseyside derby at Anfield.
“We did well. Usually after a 4-0 win I don’t know how to keep the smile off my face, but tonight it’s pretty easy,” said Klopp, suggesting there is still room for improvement for his side. “In the first half it was a derby, so it was wilder than a normal football game, but it’s a derby so you accept this.”
Everton manager Roberto Martinez, on the other hand, is now under more pressure than ever before. After a series of insipid displays this season, particularly at Goodison Park, the Spaniard is rapidly running out of support on the terraces.
Ferguson calls on United fans to rally behind Van Gaal
He hit back at his critics in the week and claimed he has moved the club on since replacing David Moyes in 2013.
But he had no excuses following this destructive defeat and admitted that it was the worst possible preparation for the FA Cup semi-final clash with United.
“It was disastrous,” he admitted. “It was a horrible showing that started with the best intentions, but ended with an inability to do the basics right.”
Published in The Express Tribune, April 22nd, 2016.
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