Van Gaal's no-nonsense approach has already won him plenty of fans in the terraces.

Despite victory, Louis Van Gaal disappointed with Manchester United’s performance against Roma

1 Comment

A 3-2 victory over Italy’s runners-up Saturday afternoon in Denver left Louis van Gaal with more complaints than praise, with the new Manchester United boss critical of a second half showing that allowed Roma to close the gap to one after the Red Devils’ three first half scores.

Two of those goals went to Wayne Rooney, whose four goals in 90 minutes have given the United star a quick start to Manchester United’s U.S. tour. The England international also set up United’s other score, with a long pass for Juan Mata allowing the Spaniard to beat Lukasz Skorupski six minutes before halftime.

In the second, goals from Miralem Pjanic and a penalty kick converted by Francesco Totti closed the gap, with van Gaal particularly critical of Ben Amos’s inability to adjust to Pjanic’s lob from beyond the center line.

“I am nearly 63 years old and I run, when the ball is flying four seconds, fifty meters,” the new United boss quipped, according to The Guardian.

It was part of a second half that saw United’s midfield let them down, leaving van Gaal remiss that some of his most skilled players couldn’t kill the game off. Combine that poor play with altitude and a mid-day kick-off, and United had its recipe for collapse.

“When you are 3-0 ahead, you just have to keep the ball as opponent [have] to run and run,” Van Gaal said. “It is very difficult, with this hot weather to do that … I am pleased we have won, but it was not good.”

Among the other things that pleased van Gaal was the performance of Rooney, whose pass for Mata’s goal was called “unbelievable.” The rest of the team drew a more critical review: “I think we [didn’t] play a good match.”

Agent: “There’s no hatred” between Bale, Ronaldo

Gareth Bale & Cristiano Ronaldo, Real Madrid CF
Leave a comment

Gareth Bale doesn’t at all dislike Cristiano Ronaldo — or vice versa — despite what may seem a lukewarm on-field relationship between the two Real Madrid superstars, insists Jonathan Barnett, agent of Bale.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

Instead, Barnett insists that the two men with very different personalities have a healthy relationship, and competition, that pushes each Galactico to be the best player he can be.

Barnett, on Bale’s relationship with Ronaldo — quotes from the Guardian:

“They don’t go out eating every night together, but it’s fine. There’s no hatred there. Gareth is a quiet guy. They’re complete opposites. But I think Gareth can learn a little bit from Ronaldo as well, interacting maybe a little bit. But he wants his own life and he lives it. Gareth is a great footballer, he doesn’t want anything more. He has some very good endorsements but his whole life is to be the best footballer in the world. I don’t think he wants to be the best model in the world or the best underwear seller. That’s not him.”

That’s a hilarious closing quote from Barnett, but he knows exactly how some folks are going to interpret it: “Bale thinks Ronaldo loves himself too much.”

[ MORE: Giroud: “I must harden myself” to unseat Walcott ]

There’s nothing better for the ultimate success of a team than healthy, friendly competition between teammates who are spectacularly talented as Ronaldo and Bale. The former will only be around to perform at his current level for so much longer, but at what point does the latter officially take the torch and supplant Madrid’s biggest star, and how accepting will he be of passing that proverbial torch?

Olivier Giroud: “I must harden myself” to unseat Walcott

Olivier Giroud, France
Leave a comment

Is it just me, or does the press really only ever get noteworthy quotes from players during international breaks?

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

I suppose it’s not surprising, given Premier League players get away from the mean ole British press, go back to their respective homelands and speak with journalists they’ve likely known since their early playing days, thus feel more comfortable opening up about key issues.

Anyway, today we have Olivier Giroud essentially calling himself out for having lost the starting striker’s job at Arsenal because he’s been outplayed of late by Theo Walcott. As discussed before, this is bad news for Giroud because he’s now falling down the depth chart for France with next summer’s European Championship on the horizon.

[ MORE: Aguero admits he wants Guardiola link-up ]

Giroud, on losing his place at Arsenal — quotes from the Guardian:

“At Arsenal, I am in competition with Theo for the striker position. But he is doing well at the moment, so there is no reason to change.

“Whether it was at Tours, Montpellier or Arsenal, I have never experienced a situation like this, I have often played from the start. I need to take positives and to harden myself mentally. It is something new for me.

“I was in [Walcott’s] place in previous seasons at Arsenal. I imagine what he must have been thinking. But I feel that the coach believes in me.”

Giroud goes on to cast into doubt his own confidence, stating in very certain terms he needs “to believe more in [his] abilities.” Giroud’s always come across as a bit of an existentialist, but it’s always strange to hear players publicly call themselves out — particularly their confidence — as if that’s not going to increase the pressure currently weighing down on them.

[ MORE: Rodgers reportedly chosen to take over at Aston Villa ]

The next eight months are going to be monumentally important in Giroud’s career, as the 29-year-old attempts to prove he’s worth keeping around at Arsenal and deserving of a place in the national team squad for next summer’s EUROs, which are to be played in France.