LONDON (The Guardian) - Louis van Gaal has admitted there have been times this season when Manchester United have left him feeling "bored or angry", following a run of low-scoring games that has led to sustained criticism of the manager and accusations he has abandoned the club's attacking principles.
Van Gaal's team made such a struggle of beating Sheffield United, ninth in League One, in the FA Cup on Saturday there were ironic cheers after a shot at goal and Paul Scholes, in his role as a television pundit, said the manager looked bored on the touchline, along with just about everyone else watching the match.
The same complaint has followed United throughout much of van Gaal's reign but this is the first time he has confessed to finding their performances monotonous and, though he continued to defend his team against the "very negative" media, he said he understood the supporters' dark humour.
"There are matches that I have enjoyed very much. Against Chelsea I enjoyed it but the result was 0-0 and we could have lost. There are also matches where I'm very bored or angry because we are not disorganising our opponent's defence but that is football. It's not every match that every club is playing fantastically, football that attracts the people.
"They have been ironic (against Sheffield United) but that's an expression of the fans and that's good. The players were frustrated and the fans were frustrated. But the fans also have to know we can't always play fantastic football and that was also the case in former days when it didn't happen. I'm sorry about that, but it is like that."
United are fifth in the Premier League, nine points behind the leaders, Arsenal, and endured an eight-match winless run before beating Swansea City in their last league fixture.
The manager's job has come under scrutiny and it was put to him that his assistant Ryan Giggs came from the same background as Scholes and Gary Neville, another regular critic, and must want more adventurous football.
"I want that also," van Gaal said. "We have to be able to do that. But that's why an opponent is there and they want to prevent us from doing that."
Van Gaal, who will be missing the injured Bastian Schweinsteiger for the trip to St James' Park, described Newcastle as "playing very well" despite their position in the Premier League's relegation places.