Van Gaal struggles to understand United’s European exit

Published 12/09/2015, 3:24 AM EST
Football Soccer – VfL Wolfsburg v Manchester United – UEFA Champions League Group Stage – Group B – Volkswagen-Arena, Wolfsburg, Germany – 8/12/15 Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal looks dejected. Action Images via Reuters / Carl Recine. Livepic


WOLFSBURG, Germany (Reuters) – Manchester United’s 3-2 Champions League defeat at VfL Wolfsburg on Tuesday was difficult to understand, said manager Louis van Gaal after they crashed out in the group stage for the first time since 2011.

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United went into the game needing a win to guarantee a place in the last 16 but were outplayed for long stretches and, having clawed their way back into the match, conceded a late goal to finish third in Group B and qualify for the Europa League.

The irony for a shell-shocked Van Gaal was his team finally found their scoring touch, after two goalless draws in their last three games, but fell apart in defence.

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“The result is difficult to understand,” the Dutchman told a news conference. “I am happy we have scored and not happy we have two times in two minutes given a goal away.

“I have to analyse why that is happening. Normally we are very good in that aspect.”

The result will further increase the scrutiny on Van Gaal who has been heavily criticised for a perceived negative style of play.

As well as frustrated supporters, there have also been no shortage of pundits willing to put the boot in.

Within minutes of United’s defeat on Tuesday, former United and England defender Rio Ferdinand described their Champions League exit as “embarrassing”.

“If you strip it back this squad needs a hard look,” he said on BT Sport. “There is no pace or power. People are looking around at each other rather than saying, ‘I will drag you through’.”

That opinion was echoed by Ferdinand’s co-pundit and former United and England team mate Michael Owen who suggested the players Van Gaal had sold over the last 18 months would beat Tuesday’s team.

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The Dutchman is now likely to reflect that United’s elimination has been largely self-inflicted.

When the draw was made, few predicted United would have any problems emerging from a group that also contained CSKA Moscow and PSV Eindhoven but Van Gaal’s men won only two of their six matches, at home to Wolfsburg and CSKA.

On the plus side the Champions League exit will allow United to focus their attention on the Premier League, handing them a potential advantage over their title rivals.

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“We now have to wait until next year but we have got enough to fight for, the FA Cup and the Premier League,” Van Gaal said.

(Writing by Toby Davis; Editing by Tony Jimenez)

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Dhruv George

12012 articles

Dhruv George is a senior Formula One and NASCAR analyst for EssentiallySports, having authored nearly 12000 articles spanning different sports like F1, NASCAR, Tennis, NFL, and eSports. He graduated with a PG Diploma in Journalism from the Xavier Institute of Communications. Dhruv has also conducted interviews with F1 driver Pierre Gasly and Moto2 rider Tony Arbolino.

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