The Dutchman’s first Premier League game ended in a 2-1 defeat, with United showing all the familiar issues that had emerged last season, while a lack of signings and injuries forced Van Gaal’s hand into deploying players out of position, resulting in a lacklustre performance and a horrible start to the season.
“It is very disappointing for the players, the fans, for me, my staff. When you have preparation time and you win everything [in pre-season] and then lose your first match, that cannot be worse,” the United manager said.
“It is not good because we have built up a lot of confidence and it shall be smashed down because of this result. But we have to know it is only one game of many games and you shall not be the champion at this moment, you shall be the champion in May.”
Van Gaal reiterated that while the squad needs reinforcements, those who played yesterday let the team down with a series of poor individual performances.
“That [the need for signings] is not a question because I knew that before this game. Of course we need defenders. It is also the question if we can play like a team and if we can reach the [right] level. Today, we didn’t reach that level. When you don’t play like a team, when you miss the chances, it is very difficult because every team shall create chances against us because we are playing with a big space behind us.
“I have said before that because of our wins in the United States and against Valencia the expectation is so high, and I have seen in the first half a lot of players very nervous, making the wrong choices, and that is a pity.
“These players have to get used to that expectation because this is Manchester United. You have to cope with that pressure. I have said to them in the dressing room: ‘I cannot say you didn’t do your very best, unbelievable work, fantastic mentality, but reaching the level is difficult, not only running but using your brain and then you can play like a team.’ In that, we have failed today.”