A week ago Louis van Gaal said he needed “better players” following the team’s defeat to Swansea in their season opener at Old Trafford.
Following their 1-1 draw with Sunderland where the squad looked disjointed at best, van Gaal was at it again, this time singling out his midfield for their listless play.
“You have to recognize the fight of the opponent,” van Gaal said in the postmatch presser. “We have reached Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie a lot of times, but after that you need the support of the midfielders, and the combination was not good enough.”
The Dutch manager’s new 3-5-2 system is supposed to be focused on more attacking play, and that was his focus after the club held the majority of possession.
“The purpose of the game is to create more chances and score goals,” he said. “We haven’t created more chances, but in the second half we were more dominant than we were against Swansea. That’s a plus, but we have to create more from that dominance.”
This revelation – which was, in all honesty, quite clear throughout the match – comes on the heels of news that Manchester United has agreed to a Premier League record fee to bring in Angel Di Maria from Real Madrid as a creative talisman to partner with Rooney and van Persie, something meant to fix exactly this problem.
When asked about Di Maria after the match, van Gaal tried to play it cool. “I think always the club has to announce [a transfer] and when we are thinking it’s the right time for a transfer then we come to you and say, ‘OK, we have bought that player or the other player,’ but at this time we cannot say anything.
“I like [Lionel] Messi also. I like [Arturo] Vidal also. We have a lot of players in this world that I like but they cannot come always to Manchester United.”
Van Gaal thought his side twice earned a penalty in the span of about 10 seconds, but both were waved off and Ashley Young was booked for diving.
“The only reason to give a penalty is when the opponent touches the leg of a player. Van Persie and Young were touched. Young lifted the ball across the opponent and he was touched by the opponent.
Again though, van Gaal blamed his own team.
“The referee can give a penalty, but we don’t have to talk too much about that. We can talk about our passing game which was not good enough.”
United are under immense pressure to make a return to the Champions League next season after finishing 7th in the table last campaign. However, the club has just one point through its first two matches.