A long shot, but van Gaal covets Ronaldo's return

LONDON • Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal wishes to have Cristiano Ronaldo back at Old Trafford, after his side showed a distinct lack of striking edge in their fortuitous 2-1 win over Watford in the Premier League on Saturday.

"We are looking at all players, not just Ronaldo. But these players are mostly ungettable," the Dutchman was quoted as saying by several British newspapers yesterday. "With Ronaldo, let's wait and hope. There is no trainer in the world who doesn't like him. He plays on the wings and he is fast, and scores goals."

Six years ago, the Portuguese superstar left for Real Madrid for a then world record fee of £80 million (S$172 million today) after helping United win three Premier League titles as well as the Champions League.

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There is no trainer in the world who doesn't like him. He plays on the wings and he is fast, and scores goals.

LOUIS VAN GAAL, Manchester United manager, on Ronaldo's value to any side

He turns 31 in February and recent reports in Spain say he is frustrated at the Spanish giants and wants to opt out.

Van Gaal preferred to highlight United's defensive virtues after they won at Watford thanks to the home side forward Troy Deeney's late own goal.

United had taken an 11th-minute lead through Memphis Depay and, although Deeney's 87th-minute penalty ended a run of 10 hours without conceding, the visitors snatched the points at the death when Deeney turned Bastian Schweinsteiger's effort into his own net in stoppage time.

"I have changed the system," van Gaal said. "I know some people think our positional game is boring but I think it is a way to disorganise the opponent's organisation.

"I was very satisfied about our defensive organisation. We didn't give more than three chances away.

"Memphis and Jesse Lingard played a very good game. We could have finished the game much earlier. I have to say after the penalty, I thought we gave it away but then you see the spirit of the game.

"We created three chances in a row. It was an injection, the equaliser. I am very proud I am the manager of that team."

Van Gaal will now assess a depleted team ahead of Wednesday's home Champions League clash with PSV Eindhoven.

Having been without a host of players, including forwards Wayne Rooney (illness), Anthony Martial (foot) and James Wilson (knee), United also lost Ander Herrera and Phil Jones at Vicarage Road.

"We are in a lousy period because there are a lot of injuries," said the manager. "Jones (twisted ankle) and Herrera (hamstring injury) are not available for Wednesday. Rooney is ill (but) I do expect that he will play on Wednesday."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 23, 2015, with the headline 'A long shot, but van Gaal covets Ronaldo's return'. Print Edition | Subscribe