LONDON (Reuters) – Louis van Gaal said he was proud of his Manchester United team as they re-booted their Premier League title challenge with a convincing 3-0 victory at Everton on Saturday.
First-half goals by Morgan Schneiderlin, his first for the club, and Ander Herrera and Wayne Rooney’s rare away strike after the interval made a tricky-looking fixture appear easy.
It was the perfect response to the 3-0 drubbing at Arsenal a fortnight ago before the international break — a result that had cast doubt on United’s credentials.
“It’s a fantastic performance I think and after the defeat against Arsenal we needed that. It’s very important to have won today,” Dutchman Van Gaal said after United’s first win at Goodison Park since 2011.
“I am very happy with the response of my players and I am very proud of the performance. I think it was an excellent performance and maybe it is the start of many, many victories.”
United are second in the table, two points behind Manchester City who they face next week in the derby at Old Trafford.
“I am a very happy coach because I have seen a lot of good individual players in my team. That also gives confidence for the matches against CSKA Moscow (in the Champions League) and Manchester City,” said Van Gaal.
Further good news for United was the return of utility player Phil Jones for his first game of the season after recovering from a mild case of thrombosis.
Marcos Rojo and Herrera also impressed, as did Schneiderlin, as Van Gaal juggled his squad ahead of a big week which begins in Moscow on Wednesday.
“They played very well, I have to say that,” Van Gaal said.
“(Rojo) had not played 90 minutes for me this season, it was his first 90 minutes, and also for Phil Jones. These changes were also question marks before the game, I didn’t know if they could play for 90 minutes.”
Rooney’s goal was his first away from home in the Premier League for 11 months and answered some of his critics.
“I said a lot in a press conference last Friday, we have to score like a team,” Van Gaal said. “Because of the attention on Wayne I am happy he scored, I believe his last goal here was in 2007. That is crazy but now I think he shall score more.”
(Reporting by Martyn Herman, editing by Alan Baldwin)