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.

Pellegrini says they were forced to choose weak team for Chelsea game

Manchester City suffered a devastating 5-1 defeat to Chelsea yesterday at Stamford Bridge and it happened not because Blues were in their best form but for City’s strategy to field a weaker team for the game. It is still not clear why they chose to play with rather young players and whether it has anything to do with the timing they were asked to play the game in since according to City manager they were not happy with a Sunday showdown especially when they needed to play crucial Championship draw with Ukraine in less than 24 hours and Manuel Pellegrini did want to his side to tire down playing a FA Cup game and not to forget City is already missing six players to respective injuries. If we look at the team composition, Manchester side played with, they carried as many as five young players which is possibly the first time they did so in the season.

Talking about the game and how come they lost the game to rather Stamford Bridge underdogs who are out of form this year, Pellegrini said in the post-match news conference, “We are forced to do it. Unfortunately we couldn’t play another day. We couldn’t have more players fit for this game so we knew before the game it was a very difficult chance to continue in the FA Cup. But if anyone didn’t want to put the game in the current day we couldn’t do anything about it. If we play on Saturday it’s better for us and to play for England in the Champions League.

“The second thing is we have six players injured and we don’t have more than 13 players so we cannot take the risk to have another injury in the players we have. And after that we play against a very good team with six young players — that’s why they won.”

Although, Chelsea scored the initial goal but visitors shredded their lead in less than two minutes thanks to 19-year-old Faupala who helped City resist the hosts until half time thereafter. But second half proved lethal for Manchester giant when they conceived four back to back goals taking the score five down to one. Talking about the course of the game and how it went against them, Pelegrini added, “I feel we made a very good 45 minutes and we equalised the game. After that, in five minutes we threw away the game because we conceded two goals too easily — especially one on the counter-attack and one on a set-piece. Of course, after that they played well and scored more goals.”

Van Gaal recalls Alex’s unsuccessful start on English soil, bets for his survival as ManU boss

Whenever a new manager joins a side, he is never expected to deliver overnight, in fact, there have been cases when new boss took months to settle down in the new climate but if we talk about English premiere league expectations are quite high over here and every time a new boss lands onto the top post, fans want him to deliver right from the next day and when he fails, his countdown starts rolling back. This is something that is seen every year happening with almost every league side who fails to sustain a respectable board ranking and Manchester United is one of them. Although, Van Gaal, who joined Old Trafford last year, is the one who is having firsthand experience of what English soccer is all about. Unlike his previous assignments on European turf, Dutchman is finding no way to rescue his image after persisting failures to take Red Devils on the top of leaderboard. The biggest problem former Real Madrid boss is facing on his first English assignment is his innovative field spread by placing key players on unorthodox positions and then not able to convince fans about his strategies.

Talking about the hanging sword on his neck and if he is going to be replaced soon after current setback, he replied to the reporters, “Remember the first years of Fergie. You’ve spoken with Ed Woodward? Why they have to deny? I don’t interfere neither. So why the club has to deny that, when you are creating stories? Okay. So you didn’t speak to Ed Woodward, not with the Glazers and you are inventing a story. And then I have to answer this question. I don’t answer this question. And I shall repeat myself every week. Now I have to say that you are getting the sack tomorrow. What is your name? Then I can announce your name also. Look at your wife, maybe you have children or a nephew or something. Okay, write what you want to write. Maybe you remember also the first years of Fergie.”

Amid all the rumors, it would be interesting to see if he could persuade his bosses and buy more time to deliver, while on the other hand, reports suggest former Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho is all set to take on the pressing job. Let’s us wait to see if Van Gaal lasts his current spell or it is Mourinho who is asked to capitalize his long Premier League experience!

Mourinho has the backing of whole team: Asmir Begovic

Jose Mourinho seems to have been riding high on sympathy these days after his sacking rumors are flashed by the leading sports dailies. Even though, fans are standing behind him but according to close club sources, he is given two more games to prove he can revive Blues board ranking by the end of this year else he will be asked to leave the side. If we look at the social support in favor of highly demotivated Portuguese, there is a positive vibe everywhere which is forcing club owners to wait and watch the developments especially after hearing the pleasing chants to keep him with the side. Blues recent loss to Stoke by 1-0 could have been the last affair for the former Everton boss had fans not raised the slogans in his support despite being just three points above of relegation zone. Apart from team performance, Mourinho is fighting to deal with his tolerance and has already been booked for abusive remarks over referees on two occasions this season including one stadium ban and if he does not take care while delivering public statements, he could land in more trouble. Interestingly, club did not send anyone for media brief in his absence which happens to be the second time in last three games that there was no one from management to answer media questions in post-match new conference.

Goalkeeper Asmir Begovic reiterated team support for their captain notwithstanding what is being flashed in the media. He said, “Jose Mourinho did the prematch talk at the hotel and that was it. (Any action) is out of our control. We are behind the manager you can see that from our performances. We think he is the right man and someone we work hard for. His spirit and his presence is always there, we wanted to get a result for him.”

Stoke manager Mark Hughes also believes more time should be given to the underperforming boss who has been a terrific performer last year, he said, “We have all been in that situation, you just have to keep winning so the focus goes elsewhere. I have had similar situations and sometimes you go under. Jose Mourinho has enormous credit at Chelsea, he has delivered trophies and surely people should cut him a little bit of slack.

“I see no reason why they should make a change but there is always focus in the Premier League.”