Van Gaal questions critics

Manchester United's Dutch manager Louis van Gaal arrives for the English Premier League football match between Manchester United and Watford at Old Trafford in Manchester in north west England on March 2, 2016. / AFP / OLI SCARFF /

Manchester United’s Dutch manager Louis van Gaal arrives for the English Premier League football match between Manchester United and Watford at Old Trafford in Manchester in north west England on March 2, 2016. / AFP / OLI SCARFF /

Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal has questioned why his future is under so much scrutiny while bemoaning his team’s lack of consistency.

Van Gaal’s side progressed to the semi-finals of the FA Cup on Wednesday with victory at West Ham, but are struggling to secure a top-four Premier League finish.

Last Sunday’s 3-0 defeat at Tottenham left United in fifth place, four points behind neighbours Manchester City in fourth, and in danger of missing out on next season’s Champions League.

That would leave the manager in a difficult position, with former Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho still considered a strong candidate to take over if a change is made this summer.

Van Gaal’s contract runs until the summer of 2017, and he intends to see it out, acknowledging that United have struggled to string victories together this season but insisting that there are still reasons to be positive as they look forward to an FA Cup semi-final against Everton at Wembley next weekend.

The manager has brought young players such as Marcus Rashford and Tim Fosu-Mensah into the first-team set-up this season, in line with both his and the club’s wish to bring through their own talent.

Asked if his policy of looking to the long-term by promoting youth-team graduates might have a positive effect on his battle to keep his job, Van Gaal insisted that the question was irrelevant.

He said: “I don’t discuss that with you. You can ask every time the same questions about what is happening with me. I don’t discuss it with the media. The media is writing that. That’s your problem. But I’m not discussing it.”

When it was suggested to Van Gaal that it was common for football managers to be placed under such scrutiny, he responded by arguing that he had faced more criticism than his Premier League rivals.

“No, I don’t think so,” he said. “I read only about my position in the media but not the position of other managers, so I don’t agree with that.”

Van Gaal, though, acknowledges that United have been inconsistent this season; in the last two months alone, they have recorded impressive victories over Arsenal and Manchester City, while falling to defeats against West Bromwich Albion and Tortenham, as well as going out of the Europa League to Liverpool.

The manager said: “Consistency is very important of course. The players and the manager and his staff have been frustrated because we were not consistent this season but there were circumstances that caused this situation.

“When you have to line up with a different team every week because of injuries, it’s difficult to make a consistent team building process.

“We are still in the race for the first positions in the league and we are still in the FA Cup. I am very happy with that.”

Van Gaal, meanwhile, has downplayed a statistic that shows Rashford’s goalscoring rate is better than Cristiano Ronaldo’s was at the same early stage of his United career, back in 2003.

Rashford, who struck in the 2-1 midweek cup victory at West Ham, has scored six goals in his first 11 appearances for United, while it took Ronaldo 40 matches to reach the same total.

“You can compare apples with pears, I think,” Van Gaal said. “I don’t agree with what you want to suggest. We have to wait and see how Marcus does.

“Of course it is fantastic what Marcus has done until now. You cannot compare with Ronaldo, though. He was not a striker at Manchester United, I believe.”



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