Van Gaal blames opponents ‘Parking the Bus’ approach for United’s shoddy record against weaker sides

Manchester United FC

We could have an hours long debate discussing what went wrong for the few top notch English premier league sides who failed in the current season and one of them is, of course, Manchester United who, despite spending money like nothing in signing players, manager, could not make any impression in the English topflight. Although, they are at number five on the board and hoping to have at least a Champions League qualification by the end, but if we look at their gameplay in last few games, they seemed to be more attacking against high profile sides rather bottom third clubs which is strange to many since most of the sides often deliver brilliantly when they are up to low profile sides, but Van Gaal is behaving different in this sense. The 64-year-old Dutchman blames it to the opponents ‘parking the bus’ approach where they try not to lose the game rather attempting to win it hence United is not having a good record against small sides. However, talking about the showdown against top notch sides, Van gaal applauded his side performance during games with teams like Manchester City and Arsenal.

Explicitly talking about the issue and what is going wrong for the Red Devils that they are playing good only against big sides, former Real Madrid boss said, “I think that that is a very intelligent question because I have said a lot of times that we need more creative players, more fast players and more quick-thinking players, because the lower teams are mostly parking the bus, as the Englishmen say. That makes things more difficult, as the top teams want to play against us, which means that we can play, which makes a big difference.”

Adding about their chances to finish among top four and if upcoming Sunday’s faceoff with Tottenham can make them a confident qualifier for next UEFA tourney, he said, “We still have to close a gap of one point, so we must win. It is very difficult because the pressure is also for Tottenham Hotspur now because they have to close the gap on Leicester City. He has made a team of this squad, a team that presses high with a good positional game and they score a lot of goals.

“They also have a lot of clean sheets though, which show they are a well-organised and structured team. I think you can give credit to Mauricio Pochettino.”

Arsenal enter FA Cup quarterfinal amid injuries to three key players

Even though Arsenal performed tremendously well in the last FA Cup fifth round game against Hull City, they eventually lost their key players for respective injuries which is a major blow for the Emirate side. Gunners convincingly defeated Steve Bruce side by a big 4-0 margin in their den and raised an alarming bell to other English clubs for rest of the English season. Although, they are now in the quarterfinal of the FA Cup, but absence of players like Aaron Ramsey, Per Mertesacker, and Gabriel Paulista would definitely make them vulnerable not in the FA but premiere league games. Taking it as a biggest blow, manager Arsene Wenger expressed his deep concerns over available options at the center back and if it would suffice considering the importance of remaining games. Their next big showdown is against in-form Barcelona in return leg of their Champions League last-16 tie and Wegner just hopes to get back Mertesacker and Gabriel by then.

Talking about the setbacks his side had to come across in victory that could possibly be lethal for them, 66-year-old Frenchman said, “I’m a bit under shock there because we lost our two centre-backs in the game and after we lost Aaron Ramsey. Mertesacker is just a cut on his eye and looks to be very short. Gabriel is a hamstring and Ramsey is a thigh problem. To me, the most serious looks to be Ramsey. He has a thigh problem, I think it is a thigh strain.”

Adding about the silence in the celebration that followed after their entry into the knockout stage of the FA Cup and why it cost them more than what it gained, Frenchman explained, “The only disappointing thing when you look back at this game is the injuries we’ve picked up. Look, do you know someone who has won it more than me? No, so that gives you the answer. ‘We judge the season after the season and I’m quite amazed so many people judge it so early, you know.

“Assess the season after the season and we’ll give everything. We have not given up anywhere and you will see that in the coming weeks. I believe that this club has been in a much worse position than it is today.”

As far Premier league is concerned, they are a big eight-point trailing to leader Leicester City with six games in hand so they need to win at least five of the six games to take the crown they have been waiting for last ten years and with latest injuries Wenger job is getting more difficult per say.

Players like Lionel Messi enjoy leverage in La Liga: Filipe Luis

Whenever a star player is stuck with any kind of controversy, it is obvious his stardom would help him ease with lots of things that could otherwise land him in problem and this is something that itch not so famous players and so they raise their strong objection over this tradition being followed by the soccer fraternity. Last month’s Barcelona vs Atletico Madrid was one such game that saw rather a minor collision between left-back Filipe Luis and Messi that cost Brazil international a straight Red Card for his tackle over the Argentine international. Since Messi was the victim, disciplinary committee acted too fast and slapped a three-match ban over 30-year-old which later reduced to one game after official appeal by the Vicente Calderón side. Does not matter if it was a mistake of referee, everyone was grossly favoring five time FIFA Player of the year without any empathy to the Atletico defender who nonetheless got the support of his side later on.

Recalling the incident that was prejudicially handled by the disciplinary committee, 30-year-old told in a TV interview, “It was a red card, it was not a mistake by the referee, it was a red card. I went out on the field and that was it, a one-match suspension and I served it.

“I was not late, I went after the ball. Now that type of play happens during every match, but because it was with Messi and because here he is the darling of the media and La Liga, obviously no one wants to see one of the best players of all time taken out. No one wants to miss a chance to see him play and that is why all of this happened.”

Looking at the heat generated by the controversy and if La Liga carries any partiality to star players, president Javier Tebas spoke last Monday and favored their impartial practices to inquire any in-ground controversy, he said, “For us, all the players are protected in La Liga. We don’t differentiate between Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo or a player from Rayo Vallecano. We are creating a global league and the big and small clubs all matter to us.”

It doesn’t matter what any of the two sides is saying now, it is true that star players enjoy some leverage whenever they are involved in any controversy – remember former Liverpool player Suarez’s biting episode during World cup and how Reds tried their hard to let it go until severe pressure built up over the disciplinary committee to ban him for his inhuman act on ground?

McManaman finds it too hard for Real to stop Barcelona only with Ronaldo

Real Madrid

Real Madrid has always been an arch rival of Barcelona and both these giants enjoy competing with each other in every game. If we look at lineup of both the sides, they both carry loads of world class players at each field position hence whenever we have a Real vs. Barca clash, fans do not want to miss single action of the game. But off late, Real has been losing its shine against in-form Barcelona who had been triumphing every title in the last calendar year and this year too they are like crushing every side coming into their way. While on the other side, Real, despite having two world priciest players in the world are not able to match their traditional rivals and credit goes to rising age of Ronaldo who now is getting older with each passing day and even former Real greats understand this vulnerability of losing prime space in European soccer. Former Real Madrid player Steve McManaman is one such pro who believes though new manager Zinedine Zidane would be successful as Los Blancos coach but as well warned Frenchman would have to prepare other options in the forward line without weighing only on Portuguese international.

McManaman has once been the integral part of Real side winning two La Liga and one Champions League crowns for the Bernabeu giant during his short span from 1999 to 2003 and he said this looking at current eight points clear lead on the top by Camp Nou side, and with this form, they are very much likely to defend their European title they won last year. Talking about Zinedine Zidane and if he has enough strength in the side to restrict Barcelona army, 44-year-old Englishman said, “I think Zizou will be a wonderful coach, I really do, but the fact that he is chasing down this Barcelona side — it is going to be very, very difficult for them because the best player at Real by a long way is Ronaldo and he is 31 now.

“Whether he is coming to the end of his superpowers I don’t know but he is certainly the wrong end of 30, while Barca seem to be getting better and better to be very honest. The team that are formed at Barcelona at this moment are wonderful so I think it is going to be very hard for Real Madrid to catch them in the near future, certainly over these next couple of years. Unless they go out and spend trillions of pounds which of course they can’t at this moment in time.

“I think it is going to be difficult for Zizou but I think he is going to be a great Real Madrid manager anyway.”

Van Gaal expects a ‘horny’ show from United against Midtjylland

Manchester United FC

While bosses at Manchester United are gearing up to finalize a possible deal with former Chelsea manager José Mourinho, current manager Van Gaal is not in a mood to give up that easily hence he is trying hard to first convince fans and then his bosses that he is the only man who can revive United hopes in English soccer. The well-known Dutch mentor has been center of criticism off late for his defensive style and not able to win games even at home and fans don’t want him to lose another one when they host Midtjylland Thursday night in second leg of Europa League round-of-32 game. This is noteworthy that Manchester giants are already trailing by 2-1 in aggregate and to win they would have to win the upcoming game by at least two goals difference. Looking at recent form of the Old Trafford side it looks highly unlikely especially when Jess Thorup side is having been in good form off late.

Anyways, without putting too much weight to the current Midtjylland form, former Netherland manager asks his team to deliver a ‘horny’ performance that could entice the fans, although, he did not describe the strange word he used in his appeal. Describing his choice of words, 64-year-old said, “A lot of times I use the word ‘horny’ to my players. They showed fight against Shrewsbury but every game is different and every game players and managers want to fight for the victory. But we are human beings also. You are not always in the same shape and form.

“I think maybe criticism of me can be an influence because there is a lot, but they have to use their tools to ignore it because that’s very important. Not only the criticism of their manager, but also of themselves.”

Talking about the Danish opponents and if they are the threat for United in Europa showdown, he added, “I don’t know what you mean. When I see the data of Midtjylland, they have always won against English opponents. Everyone thinks it’s nothing but you have to analyse every opponent on their own qualities and I think they have a lot of qualities. I was not a great player, as you know, but when I played for full stadiums I was always at my best. It is not a good signal for us. Most of the players shall be excited and it will be the match of their lives for most of them.”