LONDON (Reuters) – Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal issued a defiant response to his critics on Friday and said he had no doubts that he was the right man to lead Manchester United despite their early Champions League exit.
Van Gaal has found himself in the firing line from all quarters following Tuesday’s 3-2 defeat by VfL Wolfsburg that ended United’s Champions League hopes and condemned them to a spot in the Europa League.
Former players lined up to blame the Dutch coach with Paul Scholes calling United “average” and Rio Ferdinand saying that falling into Europe’s second tier competition was “an embarrassment”.
Despite the setback, however, the former Netherlands boss remains confident in his ability to bring silverware to the club.
“No, I don’t have any doubts,” he told a news conference ahead of United’s Premier League visit to Bournemouth on Saturday.
“You can lose and you can win in sport — you have to accept that.
“As a manager, you have to work very hard and I am working very hard as are my players.”
United’s Premier League form has been mixed, but they sit just three points off the top and remain well-placed to launch a title challenge in the second half of the season.
Among fans, however, there is a widely-held perception that United’s style of play is too negative under the Dutchman, while questions are being asked about the quality of the players Van Gaal has brought to the club.
Those fans are unlikely to be placated by suggestions from the coach that inflated expectations are weighing heavy at Old Trafford.
“The problem is that we have to meet with the expectation. At a club like Manchester United they are very high,” he said.
“You have to manage expectation and get good results. I think you can also see a lot of positive things.”
Van Gaal also said that comparisons with successful United sides of the past are unhelpful.
“You have to analyse the club now. You cannot compare it with 10 years ago, because there is an evolution in football and in European football,” he said.
“I have a task. I came to improve and win the title, when it is possible. We are in that process.”
United visit strugglers Bournemouth, who upset Chelsea at Stamford Bridge last weekend, knowing victory could see them go above surprise league leaders Leicester City.
Claudio Ranieri’s side face faltering champions Chelsea on Monday.
(Reporting by Toby Davis; editing by Ed Osmond)