LONDON (Reuters) – Louis van Gaal has many critics among Manchester United fans but he has given them at least four good reasons to smile since taking over at Old Trafford — four wins in four Premier League matches against Liverpool.
Sunday’s 1-0 win in the north west derby at Anfield, thanks to Wayne Rooney’s 78th-minute volley, completed a second successive league double over Liverpool for Van Gaal following United’s 3-1 win at Old Trafford in September.
Last season United beat Liverpool 3-0 at home and 2-1 away and he was delighted after Sunday’s hard-fought victory in a drab game lifted United back up to fifth in the table.
“When you beat Liverpool, it is good for the fans and for the table as our competitors also lose points, it is a big step in a good direction and I am very happy,” he told Sky Sports.
“In the first half we didn’t keep the ball and we have survived the first half. In the second half we played much better and kept the ball better and created chances and Wayne Rooney makes the fantastic goal again.”
Rooney’s goal, an athletic hooked volley after Marouane Fellaini’s header bounced back off the crossbar, was the one moment of true class in a game of few scoring chances.
At the other end Liverpool were only slightly more threatening, but only really tested United keeper David De Gea with two dangerous efforts from Roberto Firmino and Emre Can in the second half.
“I don’t think David De Gea has done very much, two or three balls he has to stop, a goalkeeper has to do that. He is playing very good but you can not say he was a fantastic, marvellous goalkeeper today,” Van Gaal continued.
He was also delighted with Rooney’s winner.
“I asked him to score here and he makes a lot of goals now in a row. I think he is a fantastic Manchester United striker for the media but he was also that in the first half of the season.”
Rooney has now scored in four successive games and took his league tally for United to 176 — the record by one player for one club in the Premier League era, passing Thierry Henry’s previous mark of 175 for Arsenal.
(Reporting by Mike Collett; editing by Martyn Herman)