Louis Van Gaal knows what his team have to do.
[ MORE: 3 battles in Man United-Liverpool ]
After a humbling 2-0 defeat — which could easily have been double that — during the first leg of Manchester United’s Europa League Round of 16 clash with bitter rivals Liverpool, the Red Devils owe their fans.
Speaking to the media ahead of the clash at Old Trafford on Thursday, United’s boss admitted United’s fans deserve better and is still hopeful his side can turn the tie around and grab a 2-0 win to take it to extra time.
“Yes, but we owe always to the fans a big result because the fans are paying to see that,” Van Gaal said. “We have to deliver. But in sport you can lose and you can win; that you have to accept. It’s very difficult but you have to accept that.
“We only have to think we have to beat Liverpool – and beat them 2-0 not 3-0 because we can do it in extra time. We can do it 2-0 and then we have a chance to reach the next round. You know we have scored goals within three or four minutes this season so it is possible.”
With United facing a huge battle at crosstown rivals Manchester City on Sunday (Watch live, 12 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via Live Extra) in the race for a place in the Premier League’s top four, you could forgive Van Gaal for fielding a weaker side against Liverpool as the tie seems to be out of reach.
That said, it doesn’t sound like that will happen and if United score early and Anthony Martial finds form then you never know. United beat Liverpool 1-0 at Anfield and 3-1 at Old Trafford in the PL this season and in his five games against Liverpool as United’s boss, Van Gaal’s only defeat came last week.
Jurgen Klopp‘s side will go to Old Trafford with a defensive gameplan and are likely to let United come on to them early in the game and then pick them off on the counter. The Red Devils must strike first if they’re going to have any chance of advancing but as Van Gaal said, even if they don’t get the result they need to move on, they must put in a performance worthy of their fans.
In a season which promised so much at the start but has faded dramatically, the ailing Dutchman must rally his troops for a huge European battle in front of an expectant, if not underwhelmed, Old Trafford.