Van Gaal can further put critics in place

Wayne Rooney, with Louis van Gaal, in training ahead of the PSV match.
Wayne Rooney, with Louis van Gaal, in training ahead of the PSV match.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

LONDON • Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal hopes to cock another snook at his critics when his team host PSV Eindhoven today needing victory to progress in the Champions League.

Despite ongoing criticism over the quality of their football, United climbed to second place in the Premier League table after edging out Watford 2-1 on Saturday. They have an opportunity to take over at the summit this weekend when they visit surprise leaders Leicester City.

A place in the Champions League last 16 will be theirs if they prevail at Old Trafford today and, for all the brickbats being flung at him by pundits and former United players such as Paul Scholes, van Gaal knows that he is fulfilling his objectives.

"If we beat PSV, then we will have qualified," he told MUTV.

"It is very important to win, but it is not easy because every game you have to play, you cannot say we will beat them.

"PSV also beat Wolfsburg and I think that they are a very good team. They also beat Manchester United, of course."

United's (seven points) chances of progressing from Group B were jeopardised when they lost 1-2 at PSV (six points) in their opening game on Sept 15.

But subsequent home wins over Wolfsburg (six points) and CSKA Moscow (four points), as well as a 1-1 draw in Moscow, have taken them to the top of the group.

The English side will aim to mark the 10th anniversary of George Best's death with victory today.

The Northern Irishman, who made 361 appearances for United and helped them win the European Cup in 1968, died on Nov 25, 2005 at the age of 59.

Memphis Depay, who scored against Watford, could face renewed competition for a starting role after van Gaal revealed that Wayne Rooney (illness) and Anthony Martial (foot) could return.

However, United's infirmary remains crowded.

Phil Jones (ankle) and Ander Herrera (hamstring) are the latest players to succumb to injury at Vicarage Road, rendering both men doubtful for today.

Another absentee is left-back Luke Shaw, who suffered a double leg break following a challenge by PSV's Mexican centre-back Hector Moreno in the reverse fixture.

Moreno was rested for PSV's 2-2 draw with Willem II at the weekend and can expect a hostile reception if he returns to the team today.

PSV have not won away from home in the Champions League since November 2007.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS


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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 25, 2015, with the headline 'Van Gaal can further put critics in place'. Print Edition | Subscribe