Louis Van Gaal said he believed Manchester United could still progress to the quarter finals of the Europa League despite an utterly shambolic display that saw them lose the first leg 2-0 to Liverpool on Thursday night.
United were never at the races and were outplayed from kick off, going behind to a Daniel Sturridge penalty midway through the first half before conceding a second with less than 20 minutes to go. Van Gaal, however, insisted his side could still turn the tie around in six days time.
Manchester United’s already slim chances of securing a top four finish were dealt a heavy blow on Sunday, as they deservedly lost 1-0 to West Bromwich Albion.
After a run of four wins in all competition that had somewhat eased the pressure on Louis Van Gaal, United delivered the sort of abysmal performance that has become a common theme of the Dutchman’s tenure.
Here’s five things we’ve learnt from Sunday
De Gea, Darmian, Smalling, Blind, Rojo, Carrick, Herrera, Lingard, Mata, Martial, Rashford.
subs: Romero, Fosu-Mensah, Varela, Schneiderlin, Weir, Fellaini, Memphis
Louis Van Gaal has described the decision to hand Juan Mata the captain’s armband in Wednesday 1-0 against Watford was an easy decision given the Spaniard’s experience.
With Wayne Rooney, Chris Smalling, Michael Carrick and Bastian Schweinsteiger all unavailable, Mata was named captain for the night and repaid his manager’s faith by scoring the crucial winner seven minutes from time.
Gerard Pique rules out ever joining Manchester City: “My love for United is too strong”
Barcelona’s Gerard Pique has ruled out the possibility of following Pep Guardiola to Manchester City this summer due to his “love” for former club Manchester United.
Guardiola, currently in charge of Barcelona, will join City at the end of the campaign, leading to speculation as to who the Spaniard might want to sign at the Etihad stadium.
Pique worked with Guardiola at Barcelona but the defender insisted he has no intention of joining City.
“My love for United is too strong to go to City, so I don’t see myself in their shirt, even though Pep is a great coach,” he said.
Pique joined United in 2004 but he found first team opportunities limited due to the form of Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand.
Since joining Barcelona in 2008, the Spaniard has established himself as one of the finest central defenders in the world. It is good to see that he still holds United in high regard and he is certainly welcome back to Old Trafford should he get tired of winning everything at Barcelona.
Marcus Rashford expressed his delight after scoring twice in his first Premier League game as United beat Arsenal 3-2 at Old Trafford as the 18-year-old striker scored his second brace in three days, after netting two against Midtjylland in the Europa League on Thursday.
The striker, deployed up-front to replace the injured Wayne Rooney and Anthony Martial, scored with his first shot on goal in the Premier League as he pounced on a loose ball to fire past Petr Cech with 29 minutes gone, before adding a second three minutes later as he headed Jesse Lingard’s cross.
Louis Van Gaal has apologised for theatrically throwing himself to the ground in front of fourth official Mike Dean midway through the second half of United’s 3-2 win against Arsenal, as he mocked what he perceived to be persistent diving by players of the visiting side.
Throughout the season, Van Gaal has been criticised for never showing emotions and never leaving the dugout but on Sunday he stormed towards the touchline, folder firmly in his grasp before throwing himself to the ground, a move which was met with a roar of approval by the fans.
De Gea; Varela, Carrick, Blind, Rojo; Schneiderlin, Herrera; Lingard, Mata, Memphis; Rashford.
Subs: Romero, McNair, Riley, Fosu-Mensah, Weir, Januzaj, A. Pereira.