Van Gaal says Manchester United played “very badly” to start, hails player spirit in comeback

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It’s no surprise that Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal didn’t enjoy watching his club go down 1-0 to West Ham United, but the boss was pleased with how his Red Devils responded to a lousy first half.

Behind after 49 minutes thanks to Cheikhou Kouyate’s juggling wonder goal, Van Gaal’s unit left it late before equalizing through Daley Blind in the second minute of stoppage time.

[ MORE: Match recap | Kouyate’s nifty goal ]

The turning point was Van Gaal’s 72nd-minute substitution of Marouane Fellaini for an ineffective Adnan Januzaj. Van Gaal also kept playmaker Juan Mata on the bench for the duration of the match.

From the BBC:

“We played very badly in the first half and showed a lot of spirit in the second half. We gave away that goal and then we played football but you have to do it from the first minute. But what spirit from my team after the goal and I thanked my players for that.

“With Marouane Fellaini you have to change your playing style. That’s what we did and because of him we created lots of chances. I’m pleased that we have a draw here.”

It was an odd set of moves from Van Gaal, who was certainly missing Mata’s consistent flair and organization. The Red Devils were mighty lucky to escape the Boleyn Ground with a point, and will look to get back to their winning ways on Feb. 11 against Burnley.