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Press Conference: injuries, hard parts of the job and winning the FA Cup

Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal sat down with the media, for what could be the final time, ahead of the Emirates FA Cup final against Crystal Palace at Wembley on Saturday evening. United finished the season in fifth place in the Barclays Premier League, level on points with fourth-placed Manchester City, goal difference being the difference between the two teams. United will play in the UEFA Europa League next season, from the group stages. Missing out on the UEFA Champions League may cost the club money, but they will still earn something from the less elite European competition, which was won by Sevilla after they beat Liverpool 3-1 in Basle on Wednesday evening. United would earn a Europa League place with a victory at Wembley on Saturday, which would get handed down to sixth place and the seventh placed team in the league with have to qualify for the secondary tournament next season. If Palace wins the FA Cup, they will take the place on offer, with the sixth-placed side having to qualify. Louis van Gaal spoke about the following in his presser this afternoon.

Louis van Gaal confirms players have returned from injury and are available for selection in the final match of the season:

“There are many players. Fellaini is not suspended, Darmian and Rojo are not injured anymore. I have 27 players.”

Van Gaal on what he feels is the hardest part of the job at Manchester United:

“I work a year with 27 players – all the 27 try to do their utmost best. I believe in that and then you have to say to a player he is not invited for the squad. He has to come to the stadium. That is not nice. They have all worked very hard. I do this individually, always, you cannot do it with the group.”

Van Gaal on not being close enough to win the Emirates FA Cup – yet:

“Close is not enough you have to win it. Now we can win something. You cannot predict a final, you have seen it yesterday [when Liverpool lost to Sevillal] for example. When you win silverware it is always important for the players. They can look and they can hold the cup and that is an exciting moment. The FA Cup is a big title in England, we are playing in the most prestigious temple of England.”

Van Gaal on wanting to lift the FA Cup for the clubs supporters:

“I think the fans are more concerned about the title than I. We want to give it to them because they were always there and, in my opinion, unconditional because they have never let us down. A club like Manchester United needs silverware. You have read that the whole season. We need that and the players need that also.”

Van Gaal on Crystal Palace being a threat to Manchester United:

“A 1-0 win for me is also enough because winning is the most important thing in the final. If you lose, you have nothing. Palace have a lot of speed in their attack on counters so it will be difficult. They have scored a lot out of set plays. They have a scored 29 goals from the 56 they have scored from set-pieces and that is a lot – more than we have done.”

Ahead of his final pre-match press conference this season, Louis van Gaal was interviewed by MUTV where he spoke about players who have recovered from injury in time to fight for a place in the squad which will travel to Wembley on Saturday afternoon. He also spoke about suffering disappointment as a player himself, missing out on a place in the squad for an important match. Van Gaal has 27 players available for the match, with 18 places in the squad which will travel to Wembley, meaning some of his players will be upset to miss out on a place. He said:

“Yeah, there are many players in contention such as Rojo, who is not injured anymore, and Darmian is not injured anymore. You have filmed the training session and have seen a lot of fit players, which makes it more difficult for me as I have to disappoint a lot of players. 

“We have a squad of 27 players, so I have to disappoint nine players in advance. Of course, the injured players are included in that nine, but I have to disappoint a lot of players. Then I have to select the team and disappoint more players. Some players are thinking that they could play.”

Speaking about the disappointment he suffered as a player, missing a match against Feyenoord, he said:

“I have one experience that I didn’t play against Feyenoord, but not in a cup match. It was an ordinary match, but it was a derby with Sparta Rotterdam. That was a big blow for me.”

Manchester United can end the season on a high. Results wise, the Premier League season was similar to the last, winning 19 matches, drawing nine and losing 10 – the previous season, United won 20 matches, drew 10 and lost eight, so there is a decline in the fact United have lost two more games than the previous season, but when you consider the fact that many players were sold during the summer, the simple fact that youth being blooded into the team has kept them consistent, compared to the last season, and much better that the one under David Moyes, for results anyway. United have a long way to go to reach the standards set by Sir Alex Ferguson, whether that can ever be matched will be something we have to wait and see. United have gone all the way to the final in the Emirates FA Cup, which was last lifted by the club twelve years ago. Wayne Rooney and Michael Carrick have never lifted the cup for United, they have won everything else, apart from the Europa League, which is the only European trophy United have never lifted in their entire history.

United will get better, but will that happen under Louis van Gaal – that is doubtful two years into his three-year contract. Many are calling for a change in manager this summer, with Jose Mourinho waiting in the wings. Whether that happens remains to be seen, but Van Gaal has suggested he will remain at the club for his final year – which may or may not bring the boring football back to the club next season, but it may not. United’s supporters can call for the manager to be sacked all they like, with them not making the decisions, it will be a frustrating period. Change may be needed, I for one am sick of all the discontent, which only seems to come after a draw or a loss, you never really see a lot of it when Manchester United win, which is the fickle thing. People seem to be appeased when United win, which in turn brings their silence over the sacking of the manager, which should be consistent, at least. Those that want Louis van Gaal to be sacked, need to keep saying that, win, lose or draw! Things is, that is not the case, which is where the fickleness comes from. Do I think a change is needed? Yes. Who? That is not my decision but I am not keen on Jose Mourinho. I just don’t like him. Could he grow on me? Quite possibly, but from what I have seen of him in the past – blaming referees for defeats, poking fellow managers in the eye, among other things, he would need to do a lot to make me like him. Saying that, he managed a FIFA match in Mexico in the past week, he ran on the pitch and tackled a player. It made me smile, so that could be the start of seeing the real Mourinho. He needs to be offered the Manchester United job and Louis van Gaal needs to leave, or be sacked first. At the moment, that does not seem likely to me based on the fact Ed Woodward is never quick with his decisions, so I guess we will just have to wait and see what happens.

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