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Van Gaal and Mourinho focused on victory

Louis van Gaal and Jose Mourinho have played down the significance of their impending reunion at Old Trafford by insisting Sunday’s match between Manchester United and Chelsea is all about securing three points in the Barclays Premier League.

Mourinho was van Gaal’s assistant at Barcelona in the 1990s and has gone on to become a successful manager in his own right with a host of top European clubs. This weekend, the pair will meet in opposition dug-outs for just the second time following their duel in the 2010 Champions League final. Though neither manager could resist the temptation to speak positively about one another while addressing the media, both were keen to concentrate on the game and the challenges involved…

Van Gaal on Mourinho: “I don’t know him as a manager because I am never there. I know him as a person and as my assistant manager. Maybe you know that I am always a controversial person and a lot of media has written about that. I am a little bit iron, an iron shield. Everyone can write or speak about me and I cannot change that. It took a long time for me to understand that but I cannot change what you are writing about me. So I have learned not to react and to believe in myself, my players and staff. That’s important. When did I learn this? Since coming to England! Every human being reacts in his own way to what is said and you have to ask him why he reacts like he does, not me. We hardly speak to each other, only sometimes on SMS. When we see each other, we feel the warmth between us and our families, which is nice.”

Mourinho on van Gaal: “I’m not playing against Louis on Sunday, Chelsea are playing against United. During the match I have no time – and he has no time – to look around and see who the opposition manager is. Before the match and after the match he is one of my big friends in football and I will always be happy to see him. I’ve never hidden what I feel about him. He was important. He gave me a good opportunity to keep working at a high level. As a young coach to be working four consecutive years at a club like Barcelona – one with Mr [Bobby] Robson and three with Louis – was very important.”

Source: Manutd.com

Carrick eyes United return

In an interview with Manutd.comMichael Carrick insists he is over his injury “nightmare” and is ready to make his first Manchester United appearance of the season. 

The 33-year-old suffered ankle ligament damage on the same day Louis van Gaal arrived at the Aon Training Complex in July, forcing him to undergo surgery that has ruled him out for the first-team so far this term.

But, having sat on the bench for Monday’s 2-2 draw with West Bromwich Albion at The Hawthorns, Carrick is close to making his much-anticipated comeback and can’t wait to get back amongst the action with his team-mates.

“It’s your worst nightmare as a footballer to be out for so long and this is the longest I have ever been out,” the Reds veteran told ManUtd.com. “I have never really had to deal with big injuries before, so this was something new for me.

“The timing of the new manager coming in and me getting injured on that first day wasn’t ideal, but that is something that I have got over. I am back training now and looking forward to getting amongst the boys again, and becoming a footballer again!”

United’s next assignment, with or without Carrick, is against Chelsea on Sunday when Jose Mourinho’s pacesetters visit Old Trafford. Having watched the Blues’ start to the season, which has yielded 22 points from a possible 24, the midfielder knows the Reds face a difficult challenge.

“You can’t help but be impressed,” he says. “They have got a good balance at the moment and they look really strong at the back. They have a great back five, a good mix in midfield and going forward they look dangerous. Put all of that together and it makes a pretty decent team.

“That has shown in their results, which have been strong so far. That’s why they are sitting where they are. You have to respect them. You appreciate quality and you appreciate what they give. They have rightly been praised because the performances have warranted just that.”

While Chelsea have shown their collective strength in recent weeks, United can draw confidence from a number of impressive attacking performances and Carrick is adamant that his team-mates have nothing to fear on Sunday.

“We are confident, we go into any match confident that we can get the right result,” Michael added. “We are still learning each other’s games because it is a pretty new squad with news signings and a new manager. It is progressing in the right way, we feel we are improving all the time.

“We are getting better and there are good signs to show that if we stick at it then there are good times to come. We go into every match positive and we have certainly got the firepower to cause a lot of teams problems.”

Rafael counts on Old Trafford factor

Rafael believes Manchester United are beginning to bring that fortress feeling back to Old Trafford and hopes it’s a factor that will help the Reds when Chelsea are in town on Sunday.

Louis van Gaal’s men have won the last three matches on home soil against QPR, West Ham and Everton, netting eight goals in the process. A test against the unbeaten league leaders is something Rafael says everyone is looking forward to and he insists anything could happen on the day.

“Everyone is beatable. We have to do our best, of course. They are playing well. We’re playing at Old Trafford though and we’ve been getting results there so they are definitely beatable,” he told ManUtd.com.

On making Old Trafford a fortress again, the Brazilian added: “I think so – I feel that, we’ve been getting results here and have played some good football.

“Football is about results and, when you don’t play well and draw, like on Monday night, of course everyone will speak. But hopefully we can play well against Chelsea and, if we get the result, it would be very positive for us and the whole team.

“I’ve been involved in a lot of these [big] games. I love to play these games. They always have a great atmosphere. I’m sure Old Trafford will be very loud again. It will be hard because they are playing well. We just have to concentrate and do our best, and I hope we can get the result we want.”

Courtesy: Manutd.com

Shaw eyes Blues showdown

Luke Shaw is looking forward to pitting himself against Chelsea at Old Trafford on Sunday in the first big showdown of the 2014/15 campaign and “one of the biggest games in world football”.

The London-born left-back grew up watching Chelsea as a kid and comes from a family of Blues who will have a vested interest in Sunday’s game, and that merely heightens his determination to do well.

“Playing against Chelsea is a big thing in my family and among my friends because I was born around that area of London,” he told Inside United magazine. “I used to watch them when I was younger, which is something I’m sure people know by now.

“When I first played at Stamford Bridge with Southampton it was a bit of a surreal experience in a lot of ways because it was at a ground I’d visited as a kid.

“But playing against Chelsea with United at Old Trafford is a different proposition altogether. I’m really looking forward to it, especially with how big this fixture is. Everyone knows that United-Chelsea games are massive, so it’s something I’m really looking forward to.”

Chelsea have set the pace in the Barclays Premier League this season and Louis van Gaal described Jose Mourinho’s men as “another biscuit”, a Dutch phrase intended to imply that Chelsea are at another level to the opponents United have faced recently. It’s that step up in quality that adds to the appeal for Shaw.

“It’s a huge game – I think you can safely say it’s one of the biggest games in world football and there will be people everywhere watching it on TV,” added Shaw. “There aren’t many games that are bigger than this one and that’s why I’m really hoping to be a part of it. I want to show people what I can do in games like this.”

Source: Manutd.com

Rafael counts on Old Trafford factor

Rafael believes Manchester United are beginning to bring that fortress feeling back to Old Trafford and hopes it’s a factor that will help the Reds when Chelsea are in town on Sunday.

Louis van Gaal’s men have won the last three matches on home soil against QPR, West Ham and Everton, netting eight goals in the process. A test against the unbeaten league leaders is something Rafael says everyone is looking forward to and he insists anything could happen on the day.

“Everyone is beatable. We have to do our best, of course. They are playing well. We’re playing at Old Trafford though and we’ve been getting results there so they are definitely beatable,” he told ManUtd.com.

On making Old Trafford a fortress again, the Brazilian added: “I think so – I feel that, we’ve been getting results here and have played some good football.

“Football is about results and, when you don’t play well and draw, like on Monday night, of course everyone will speak. But hopefully we can play well against Chelsea and, if we get the result, it would be very positive for us and the whole team.

“I’ve been involved in a lot of these [big] games. I love to play these games. They always have a great atmosphere. I’m sure Old Trafford will be very loud again. It will be hard because they are playing well. We just have to concentrate and do our best, and I hope we can get the result we want.”

Courtesy: Manutd.com

Van Gaal frustrated by West Brom draw

Louis van Gaal cut a frustrated figure after his Manchester United side were denied a first away win by West Bromwich Albion on Monday night.

Louis van Gaal cut a frustrated figure after his Manchester United side were denied a first away win by West Bromwich Albion on Monday night.

In fact, the hosts twice threatened to claim a victory themselves, edging in front through Stephane Sessegnon and Saido Berahino before Marouane Fellaini and Daley Blind levelled the scores at 1-1 and 2-2 respectively.

“I am very disappointed, the result was not good enough,” said van Gaal in his post-match interview.

“I think we could have won and that’s why I’m disappointed. I have to be happy that we created lots of chances and West Brom had only two shots – but their two shots were both goals! We gave the game away with our errors which is a pity as it could have been a new start if we’d have won here – that was possible, I believe.”

When asked if his side had given too much space to West Brom’s attacking players for the two goals, van Gaal replied: “Yes, that’s also a part of the individual errors [we made]. West Brom were playing more narrow in midfield and our wide defenders were pushing up and giving away too much space.”

“I had more or less decided to bring him on after 30 minutes,” revealed the Reds boss. “I said to him to look at what Herrera was doing because I want you to play. He scored at once [after coming on] and made some very good play I think.

“We have to look for physical balance and maybe that’s part of our problem. I am a coach who always looks for creative players but in England you also need physical bodies in your team – Fellaini is one of these.

“I am looking for balance and maybe with this formation, but with the same philosophy, we could do better.

“With training sessions players now understand the philosophy more and I have seen it also tonight which is why it’s such a pity we couldn’t get the result we deserved.”

The boss was asked whether he might utilise the same 4-2-3-1 formation in the forthcoming crunch matches with traditional rivals Chelsea and Manchester City. “You never know but I have a lot of confidence as I liked the match,” he teased in response.

Finally, on United’s points tally in sixth place: “It’s not good because when you see our games we have normally been the better team. But when you have 12 points from eight games, it’s eight points too few.”

Source: Manutd.com

Report: West Brom 2 United 2

WEST BROM ALBION   2

Sessegnon 8, Berahino 65

MANCHESTER UNITED   2

Fellaini 48, Blind 87

 

Marouane Fellaini and Daley Blind both scored their first goals for Manchester United to earn the Reds a dramatic 2-2 draw at West Bromwich Albion.

Strikes from Stephane Sessegnon and Saido Berahino had earned the Baggies slender leads in each half, though the visitors showed great courage and tenacity to twice restore parity and earn a much-deserved away point in the Barclays Premier League.

Louis van Gaal made three changes to the XI which started the 2-1 win over Everton before the international break with Phil Jones, Ander Herrera and Adnan Januzaj all coming in for Paddy McNair, Antonio Valencia and Radamel Falcao. The boss also adapted his formation at The Hawthorns, opting for 4-2-3-1 instead of the recently used 4-4-2 diamond.

United made a slow start to proceedings and fell behind in just the eighth minute when Stephane Sessegnon latched onto Andre Wisdom’s cross from the right flank to smash into the top right corner of David De Gea’s goal. The Reds reacted well and could have equalised moments later when Robin van Persie met Angel Di Maria’s through-ball to force a decent save from Boaz Myhill, who was brought in for the injured Ben Foster.

The Baggies’ goalkeeper was again in action shortly afterwards when Di Maria expertly controlled Daley Blind’s long ball before swiftly hitting a left-footed shot at goal. The Argentinian then went close for a second time when his powerful 15-yard effort in the 30th minute was also saved.

Robin van Persie had a shot blocked in the 39th minute before James Morrison was booked for a rash challenge on Herrera. Juan Mata took the resulting free-kick and, disappointingly, his effort flew high and wide of the crossbar, which summed up a frustrating first half for the Spanish midfielder.

Van Gaal decided to replace recently-injured Herrera with Marouane Fellaini at the half-time break and the towering Belgian made an immediate impact in the 48th minute, when he out-muscled former Manchester City defender Joleon Lescott to control the ball on his chest and then smash a right-footed shot past Myhill from around 10 yards, prompting delirious scenes among the travelling United fans.

Clearly encouraged by the equaliser, the Reds pressed forward in search of another goal and almost found one when Rafael’s cross evaded Fellaini at the far post before Mata’s close-range shot was blocked by a West Brom defender. Then, against the run of play, the Baggies restored their lead in the 65th minute as Saido Berahino ran onto Morrison’s incisive pass to finish past De Gea.

Falcao, who did not start due to jetlag, was then introduced for Mata and the Colombian almost registered an assist with his first touch when his back-header led to van Persie hitting the post in the 74th minute, with Januzaj then blasting wide from the rebound. Ashley Young replaced Di Maria, who took a seat in the dugout with an ice-pack around his right thigh.

Just as another away defeat was looming large, United restored parity as Falcao teed up Blind to curl home his first goal for the club and secure some reward on this road trip to the Midlands.

Preview: West Brom v United

After a 15-day break for international fixtures, Manchester United are back in action in the Barclays Premier League on Monday night away to West Bromwich Albion (kick-off 20:00 BST).

The Reds have won the last two matches against West Ham and Everton and climbed to fourth in the table as a result. With challenging fixtures against Chelsea, Manchester City and Arsenal not far away, Louis van Gaal will hope for another victory to keep the momentum going.

Team news: United captain Wayne Rooney is again unavailable as sits out game two of his three-match suspension, but van Gaal confirmed in his pre-match press conference on Friday that his injury list is now down to just four players. Paddy McNair,Antonio Valencia, Jonny Evans and Jesse Lingard are sidelined, and although Michael Carrick is back in training the boss says this game is likely to come too soon for the midfielder. However, Ander Herrera is set to feature after shaking off a rib problem. West Brom’s record signing Brown Ideye could return after an ankle injury, while Chris Brunt (groin) faces a race to be fit and Claudio Yacob has returned home to Argentina on compassionate leave.

The Opposition: The Baggies endured a disappointing start to the campaign under new manager Alan Irvine but results have picked up recently. They’ve won three of their last four outings in all competitions, including an impressive 1-0 triumph at Tottenham, and were unlucky to lose away to Liverpool last time out. Irvine will hope Saido Berahino can continue his prolific scoring form, after five goals in seven league games so far this season plus a match-winning penalty for England Under-21s against Croatia last week.

Courtesy: Manutd.com

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