Louis van Gaal sets his eyes on FA Cup “I came to England to win titles and now are very close”

Manchester United close down the gap to the top four to just one point again, although Arsenal have a game in hand. But Manchester City who drew against Newcastle United are just two points ahead of United and thus, the fight for top four is still ripe and open. The Red devils put in today a better performance than the one over the weekend, the quality of the opposition certainly helped. Crystal Palace were flat and dead throughout the game. Their attacking was so poor that David De Gea had a field day today, nothing to do at all.

But one can surely take some positives off the game as just a weak opposition will not mean much if you don’t score off your opportunities. The scoreline actually doesn’t suggest the level of United’s dominance. The game could have easily finished 3-0 or 4-0 to United, only if the strikers didn’t miss their chances. Someone who did not miss his chance was, Matteo Darmian. What an amazing way to bring up his first Manchester United goal, it could have reminded some people of the famous Patrice Evra goal. The thunderous volley helped United get into a better and safer position. The goal scorer himself found the goal very special.

“It was special in front of the Stretford End, in front of our fans. I will always remember this goal.”

The man of the match for today, Darmian, however, has his eyes set on the next target.

“It was important, a massive victory. We have to be focused on the next game against Everton, we want to reach the final. It will increase our confidence, so we have to continue. We need to win all our games and see where we can get.

“It will be a difficult game but it’s a big game, a semi-final of the FA Cup at Wembley. It’s a really good chance for us to win that trophy.”

His partner in the backline was a bit surprised to see the shot, especially with the power that it was hit. Chris Smalling expressed his feelings of that goal post match.

“It was a surprise for us, especially with his left foot! What a way to get your first goal.”

The manager too was in a positive mood today after the rather easy win. But he also admitted that his team should have scored a few more goals and closed the game pretty early.

“I was very happy with the performance. It was a four or five zero game. We should have finished it much earlier and should have scored more goals. We created a lot of chances and did not give any chances away.”

But one should also not forget the first goal (own goal), which set the game up for United. Teams usually come to Old Trafford with the thinking of sitting behind and defending. But an early goal can dent such strategy. Smalling too felt that it made a difference to how the game turned out to be.

“We can control a lot of the games at Old Trafford, but we sometimes find it tough to break teams down. Getting that early goal, you can see from the amount of chances we created after that, it made the difference.”

The manager too expressed similar views regarding how the first goal helped the players ease into the game.

“Yes it helps of course and also such a goal [for the second]. I was very happy for Matteo [Darmian], two times he was involved in the goals and I have seen it already in the training session. He was the top scorer of the day on Monday and he did it again in the match. He shot with his left and right foot, and now he shot for his goal with his left foot.”

The Dutchman is also still hopeful of the top four finish as he believes that the other challengers too must be facing the pressure.

“Of course we are in the race and we are two points behind City and Arsenal [who are one point ahead of United] have to play tomorrow [Thursday] against West Bromwich Albion. It is not an easy opponent because they will defend, probably, and it is always difficult. You have seen Arsenal against Crystal Palace – it is always difficult.”

With the semi-final at Wembley coming up in just a couple of days, the manager feels that he has a clear idea of how the selection process will go for the game.

“Selection is not so difficult because you are following what you see, what your philosophy is, what the game plan is. Now you have to convince the players why you select that way. That is much more important.”

He also was very excited about playing at Wembley and will be treating the game with all the seriousness, irrespective of the debacle that Everton was against Liverpool.

“Of course the semi-final is not nothing. I came to England to win titles and now are very close. But first we have to beat Everton and that is not so easy. Also when they have lost to Liverpool 4-0, with 10 men it is difficult against Liverpool I think [Ramiero Funes Mori was sent off].”

With the FA Cup coming up things are looking a little bright for Van Gaal, but one should not get ahead of themselves and take one game at a time. United now need to win four of their remaining league games in order to have a chance to finish in top four. What would be special is if they could couple it with an FA Cup victory. Everyone will witness the event unfold over the next few days but they will be very crucial in deciding Van Gaal’s future at Old Trafford, that is if it hasn’t already been decided. Over to Wembley!!

Written by Chinmay Padhye


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