Manchester United boss Van Gaal braced for Derby duel in FA Cup

Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal has his back to the wall once again ahead of his side’s FA Cup fourth-round tie at second-tier Derby County on Friday.

Saturday’s woeful 1-0 defeat at home to Southampton prompted press reports that Van Gaal had offered to resign and although those claims were rebutted by figures within the club, defeat at Derby will see the speculation ramp up all over again.

United needed a stoppage-time Wayne Rooney penalty to overcome third-tier Sheffield United in round three and the United captain is anticipating another testing evening at the iPro Stadium, where United won 4-1 in the fifth round in 2009.

“We know, as we’ve played there before, that it will be a difficult game with a good atmosphere on Friday night,” Rooney told MUTV.

“I’m sure they will be really up for it with their crowd and we will be up for it as we’ve experienced these games. The players who joined us last year and played against Cambridge and Yeovil will have seen that an FA Cup tie like this is more of a battle than a football game.

“We have to be ready for that and be ready for a tough game as the cup is full of surprises. Derby have nothing to lose. No-one is expecting them to win and they will try to cause an upset. We know that and have to be ready for that.

“It will be a difficult night for us. Sheffield United at home was a tough game, so we have to be ready to battle and win the battle. Hopefully then our qualities will show through.”

Derby, managed by former Real Madrid assistant coach Paul Clements, go into the game on the back of a heavy 4-1 loss to Championship promotion rivals Burnley, which left them fifth in England’s second division.

But Clements is relishing the chance to lead his players out against United, who Derby last overcame in the FA Cup in 1897.

“What a challenge, to play one of arguably the biggest clubs in world football,” he told the Derby website.

“It’s clear they’re not having the best time themselves at the moment, but it’s an opportunity for two teams to come together and put in a performance.

“It’s going to be nice to put ourselves up against a very good side with world-class players, and a fantastic coach in Van Gaal.”

– Arsenal seek Burnley reaction –

Van Gaal’s defensive injury problems continue to mount, with right-back Matteo Darmian, who sustained a rib injury against Southampton, joining Luke Shaw, Antonio Valencia, Marcos Rojo and auxiliary full-back Ashley Young on the sidelines.

Central midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger is also unavailable with a knee injury.

Derby could award a debut to Swedish international left-back Marcus Olsson, who signed from Blackburn Rovers this week.

Holders Arsenal continue their quest for a third successive FA Cup trophy — a feat last achieved by Blackburn between 1884 and 1886 — at home to Burnley on Saturday.

Arsenal squandered an opportunity to regain top spot in the Premier League last Sunday when they lost 1-0 at home to Chelsea, which left them without a win in three games, and right-back Hector Bellerin has urged his teammates to put the disappointment behind them.

“We need to focus on the next game and it does not matter about the trend,” the Spaniard told the club website.

“We are not thinking about that. We are just thinking about winning and getting ahead.”

Liverpool host West Ham United on Saturday, while Manchester City visit the Premier League’s bottom club, Aston Villa.

Liverpool and Manchester City both reached the League Cup final in midweek.

Guus Hiddink’s quest to repeat his 2009 FA Cup triumph with Chelsea continues on Sunday when his side visit second-tier Milton Keynes Dons, who famously humiliated Manchester United — and Van Gaal — 4-0 in last season’s League Cup.


Friday (1945 GMT):

Derby County v Manchester United

Saturday (1500 GMT unless otherwise stated):

Arsenal v Burnley, Aston Villa v Manchester City, Bolton Wanderers v Leeds United, Bury v Hull City, Colchester United v Tottenham Hotspur (1245 GMT), Crystal Palace v Stoke City, Liverpool v West Ham United (1730 GMT), Nottingham Forest v Watford, Oxford United v Blackburn Rovers, Portsmouth v Bournemouth, Reading v Walsall, Shrewsbury Town v Sheffield Wednesday, West Bromwich Albion v Peterborough United


Carlisle United v Everton (1330 GMT), Milton Keynes Dons v Chelsea (1600 GMT)

Photo Credits : AFP

Even I’m bored by United admits Van Gaal

Louis van Gaal admits there have been times this season when even he has been left feeling bored and angry by Manchester United’s lacklustre displays.

United ended an eight-match winless run by defeating Swansea nine days ago and then followed that victory up with a narrow success in the FA Cup against third tier Sheffield United.

But neither result was enough to ease the pressure on United boss Van Gaal because of the dull and uninspiring performances of his team.

Paul Scholes branded United’s style of play boring earlier this season and following Saturday’s 1-0 victory in the FA Cup, the former Old Trafford great claimed both Van Gaal and his players even looked bored during the third round tie.

Van Gaal, already forced to insist he wouldn’t resign due to the criticism of his methods from disgruntled fans earlier this season, will come under renewed fire if United fail to win at struggling Newcastle in the Premier League on Tuesday.

And ahead of that fixture, the 64-year-old finally conceded some of the football on display at Old Trafford this season has been dull.

“There are matches that I have enjoyed,” Van Gaal told reporters on Monday.

“And there are also matches where I’m very bored or angry because we are not disorganising our opponent’s defence, but that is football.”

Despite that admission, the Dutchman still slammed suggestions that his primary aim is to stifle the opposition rather than attack.

“Do you know that,” he snapped at reporters. “I am not concerned (about defending more than attacking).

“At this moment we have a lack of creativity and you can see that but they have done it (played well in the past) so they can do it.”

Asked if he needed to show more passion on the touchline in the style of legendary United boss Alex Ferguson, Van Gaal was adamant he would remain true to his own style.

“I’m not Sir Alex, as you know,” said Van Gaal, who has rarely come to the touchline to speak to his players during his spell at the club.

“Everybody is different and I don’t believe in yelling from the sidelines. I believe in communication during the week, during the preparation and I believe in my players who have to perform.

“It’s very difficult because of the noise.

“A lot of managers are (yelling from the sidelines) but I doubt if they have real influence.”

Photo Credits : AFP

Van Gaal vexed by misfiring Manchester United

Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal admitted to concerns about his team’s goal-scoring problems after they were bundled out of the League Cup on penalties by second-tier Middlesbrough.

The Premier League giants contrived to fail with three of their four attempts in Wednesday’s 3-1 shoot-out loss, with England internationals Wayne Rooney, Michael Carrick and Ashley Young all unsuccessful.

That followed a goalless tie, including extra time, which extended United’s run without a goal in domestic football to 238 minutes following a drab stalemate with Manchester City in last weekend’s Manchester derby.

“Yes, of course,” said Van Gaal when asked if he was worried about the statistics. “Because in football all that matters is a goal and we have played two matches zero-zero.

“In my opinion, we could have scored also against Manchester City, but now, again, we did not score. It’s a concern, but I do know also it can easily turn around in the next game.”

That next game comes at Crystal Palace on Saturday, with Van Gaal adamant that United’s recent run of troubles in front of goal will have no adverse effect on his players.

“We are top sportsmen and you know that in any sport, there is not only winning, you lose also and you have to lift yourself,” he said.

“It’s disappointing. It’s also disappointing for me, but tomorrow (Thursday) is another day and the day after tomorrow is already more about preparation for Crystal Palace.”

Despite the desperate showing from the penalty spot against Middlesbrough, — with only youngster Andreas Pereira successful in four attempts — Van Gaal refused to be critical of the players who fluffed their lines in what the Dutch veteran described as the “casino” of a penalty shoot-out.

“In the goal was a goalkeeper (Tomas Mejias) and he was very quick and he gambled,” he said.

“And he’s 195 centimetres (6’4”) also, so that’s not easy to do. When the goalkeeper is gambling for the right corner, you need players who look at the goalkeeper and put it in the other (side).

“But you have already played 120 minutes, so you’re not so sharp any more. That’s why these things happen.”

– ‘Fans deserve home tie’ –

Van Gaal made nine changes to his starting line-up and handed a first start of the season to James Wilson, although the youngster limped off at half-time to be replaced by Rooney.

While the Dutchman claimed United should have had a late penalty for handball and were generally unfortunate, he also expressed pride in their efforts.

“You can say it’s unlucky, but I said that after the City match also,” he added.

“You have to force the luck, but we didn’t do that because we didn’t score. That’s why I’m disappointed.

“But my players have given everything. That’s why I’m also proud of them because they have done it until the end.”

Victorious manager Aitor Karanka, who masterminded Middlesbrough’s shock FA Cup win at Manchester City in January, is relishing the prospect of a quarter-final home tie with Everton, who are managed by fellow Spaniard Roberto Martinez.

“The first thing is the tie is at home and our fans deserve to be at home for once,” said the former Real Madrid defender, whose side were supported by over 10,000 travelling fans at Old Trafford.

“Secondly we are playing Everton and if I have had any success since arriving here, it is because Roberto has given me a lot of advice since I came here.

“I didn’t know him until I came here, but he sent me a letter to say welcome and then he called me and we had a really good chat.

“He was telling me a lot of things and I learned a lot from that side. He is a good friend, he’s doing really well, and I’m pleased to be playing him.”

Photo Credits : AFP

Maina Kageni pays Shaffie Weru 10k for losing a bet (Photos)

Maina placed a ten thousand shilling bet with Kiss fm’s Shaffie Weru for the match between Manchester United and Chelsea played on Saturday 18th April.

Initially the bet was to be five thousand shillings but Maina, an avid Manchester United supporter  increased the amount to ten thousand because he was sure that his team would beat Chelsea.

While collecting the money  Shaffie said that each of the ten notes represented the Chelsea team players.

The game ended Chelsea 1- Manchester 0 with a goal from  Eden Hazard.

Maina Kageni counting the money
Shaffie Weru confirms the amount
Shaffie picks one note after the other while mentioning the players names
Maina gives away 10k for losing the bet
Shaffie shows off his winnings








Van Gaal reveals derby desire

Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal has said it would be a “dream” to add a Manchester derby win to his long list of football achievements, saying his side’s recent poor run of results in the fixture was of no great concern to him.

United have lost their last four matches against bitter rivals Manchester City ahead of Sunday’s Premier League clash at Old Trafford, and have never in their history lost five in a row.

However, Van Gaal believes that because three of those defeats pre-date his arrival at United they become less relevant to his cause.

City beat United in their most recent meeting at Eastlands in November thanks to Sergio Aguero’s goal, while the visitors played the majority of that game a man down following Chris Smalling’s red card.

“Of course I dream of it,” former Ajax, Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Netherlands boss van Gaal said Friday of the prospect of beating City.

“Every player shall dream of the victory.

“The run of four games? It’s not my story. What can I say? We have lost 1-0 — that’s my history. One-nil and we have also a red card,” the Dutchman added.

“What I say always in such games, always you have to control your aggression. And we didn’t do that at that time. So I hope we have learned from that moment.”

Van Gaal believes that a victory over reigning champions City would help cement United’s third place in the Premier League, with the Red Devils currently a point in front of their local rivals, and avoid the need to go through a Champions League play-off next season.

“You want to win because it’s a big step in the table also,” the 63-year-old United manager said.

“When you win, the third place is reachable and a month ago no-one was thinking about that – besides me of course!

“Then the third position is also good because you are certainly qualified for the Champions League.”

The derby is unlikely to feature any players born in Manchester, although van Gaal played down the significance of the statistic, saying the game would lack nothing of its traditional intensity as a result.

“I think at this moment, in our football world, I don’t think it’s an obligation to play always with a player who is out of the youth education.

“When you see it internationally we are not at the exception. I know also a match between derby teams of the same city is always very special. I am always confident, because I always believe in my team.”

United striker Robin van Persie will miss the game as he continues his recovery from an ankle injury, while left-back Luke Shaw will be absent with a hamstring problem.

United centre-back Smalling is expected to be available after he missed the win over Aston Villa through illness.

Van Gaal added: “Most of the players are fit. But fit for me is a different situation so I don’t think every player is fit.

“For example, Robin van Persie is not fit enough to play. I don’t think Luke Shaw is fit enough to play.

“I cannot say they are not fit, but in my opinion they are not fit to play. Fit to play, match rhythm that’s very different.”

Photo Credits : AFP

Five classic Man United v Arsenal FA Cup ties

Old foes Manchester United and Arsenal face off at Old Trafford on Monday in an FA Cup quarter-final that represents both teams’ best hope of winning a trophy this season.

Here, AFP Sports recalls five classic FA Cup encounters between the clubs, who have each won the trophy on a joint-record 11 occasions.

Arsenal 3-2 Manchester United — final, Wembley, May 1979

Dubbed ‘The Five-minute Final’. Arsenal appeared to be coasting to victory courtesy of first-half goals from Brian Talbot and future United striker Frank Stapleton, only for Gordon McQueen to bring Dave Sexton’s side back into the game with four minutes remaining. Sammy McIlroy equalised two minutes later, but with United’s fans still celebrating in the Wembley sunshine, Graham Rix crossed from the left for Alan Sunderland to squeeze an 89th-minute winner past Gary Bailey.

Arsenal 1-2 Manchester United — semi-final replay, Villa Park, April 1999

The last ever FA Cup semi-final replay was settled by arguably the tournament’s greatest ever goal as United secured a victory that inspired them to a glorious Treble. In a game of dizzying momentum swings, David Beckham put United ahead from long range, only for Dennis Bergkamp to equalise with a deflected shot. United were reduced to 10 men when Roy Keane was sent off and Phil Neville then conceded a last-minute penalty for tripping Ray Parlour. But Peter Schmeichel saved Bergkamp’s spot-kick and in the 19th minute of extra time, a loose pass from Patrick Vieira was picked up on the halfway line by Ryan Giggs, who scythed through Arsenal’s fabled back four before slamming a shot past David Seaman.

Arsenal 0-1 Manchester United — semi-final, Villa Park, April 2004

With second-tier rivals Millwall and Sunderland facing off in the other semi-final at Old Trafford, this last-four tie was seen as a de facto final. Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal were gunning for a third successive FA Cup success and would finish the season unbeaten as league champions, but Paul Scholes’s emphatic 32nd-minute strike gave United victory and Alex Ferguson’s side comfortably outclassed Millwall in the final at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium.

Arsenal 0-0 Manchester United (Arsenal win 5-4 on penalties) — final, Millennium Stadium, May 2005

United and Arsenal were blown away by newcomer Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea in the league in 2004-05, but the FA Cup final gave both sides a chance to finish the season with a piece of silverware. Inspired by Wayne Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo, United were dominant, hitting the woodwork three times, but it was Arsenal who ultimately prevailed on penalties. After Jens Lehmann had saved from Paul Scholes, Patrick Vieira swept home the decisive spot-kick in his final Arsenal game before leaving for Juventus.

Manchester United 4-0 Arsenal — fifth round, Old Trafford, February 2008

The two clubs were on contrasting trajectories — United three months away from a league and Champions League double; Arsenal three years into a trophy drought that would extend for a further six — and it showed in a one-sided affair at Old Trafford. Darren Fletcher scored twice, with Wayne Rooney and Nani also on target, and Nani rubbed salt into Arsenal’s wounds late in the game by audaciously juggling the ball on his head as he ran back towards his own goal, to the visible displeasure of his opponents.

Photo Credits : AFP

Van Gaal frustrated by Manchester United slip-up

Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal expressed frustration after his side squandered a chance to avenge their Premier League opening day loss to Swansea City in a 2-1 defeat.

Ander Herrera gave the visitors a 28th-minute lead at the Liberty Stadium on Saturday, but Swansea equalised less than two minutes later through South Korean midfielder Ki Sung-yueng.

The game was won 17 minutes from time when Bafetimbi Gomis inadvertently deflected Jonjo Shelvey’s long-range strike over David de Gea to bring United’s 19-game unbeaten run to a halt.

“It is always frustrating when you dominate a team and lose,” van Gaal told reporters after a result that saw his team slip to fourth place.

“Your disappointment is much bigger because of that. If you think they deserved to win, you have to say.

“The first half, I think, was equal. I counted the number of chances Swansea had and we had the same. We scored one each, so there was no big difference.

“In the second half, there was a big difference. But we were not effective. We dominated the game, even with 10 men, because Robin van Persie could not run anymore after his injury.

“I cannot say anything about my players except that we lost. The disappointment is much bigger. I think you have to see the slow-motion of the match, then you can see which players were not effective.

“Sometimes you can control the ball instead of shooting directly. Normally we are very effective, so it is amazing that we have lost.”

Van Persie left the stadium on crutches after injuring himself late on and his striker partner Wayne Rooney admitted it had been a day to forget.

“We certainly deserved to win the game,” said the United captain. “That’s the disappointing thing. When you play well and can’t get the win. But that’s football.”

– ‘Better lucky than good’ –

Gomis’s fortuitous goal allowed ninth-place Swansea to complete a first ever home-and-away league double over United and victorious manager Garry Monk said he was more than satisfied with the manner of victory.

“I would rather be lucky than good,” he said. “Yes, we had to ride some pressure, but even with the players they have, they only had one shot.

“We scored a very good goal in the first half and responded as you would want your players to respond. We had shots cleared off the line and we more than competed.

“I think we needed to be a bit better in the second half, but we dealt with the pressure they put on us. In the end, we scored a fantastic goal and probably could have had a third.”

Monk also expressed pride in his players’ reaction after a disappointing 2-0 loss at West Bromwich Albion in their previous outing.

“It is the first time in the club’s history that we have got the double against them and I told the players before the game that anything, in terms of creating history, is worth fighting for,” he said.

“To be able to do the double, I think everyone connected with the club should be proud. I have always believed in my team.

“It won’t always go to plan, but we responded well after a disappointing result at West Brom. We stuck together and got the win, which our performance deserved. We have to be pleased.

“I have spoken to the group about an opportunity to create a special season. We might not be winning the league, but we have different things to fight for.

“You have to be remembered for something. We have 13 games left in our season and we have to remain focused on those games.”

Photo Credits : AFP

Van Persie set to add to United’s firepower at Swansea

Robin van Persie is expected to return to the squad as Manchester United aim to extend their unbeaten run to eight matches in all competitions when they face Swansea on Saturday.

Netherlands striker van Persie missed United’s 3-1 FA Cup fifth round victory over Preston North End with an unspecified minor injury, but manager Louis van Gaal confirmed his compatriot is expected to be fit for the Premier League fixture at the Liberty Stadium.

If van Gaal decides to recall van Persie, who is United’s top scorer with 10 league goals so far this season, it is most likely to be at the expense of Radamel Falcao.

The Colombia forward has struggled to find consistent form since moving to Old Trafford on a season-long loan from Monaco in September.

He was replaced by Ashley Young after 60 minutes during Monday’s match at Preston and United improved significantly after the substitution and tactical switch.

That victory meant United have now lost just once in 19 matches and Young attributes the recent success to a strong bond within the dressing room.

“The club has always had great spirit. I’ve seen that since I’ve been here,” Young said.

“All the boys in the dressing room are fighting for each other and when you have that off the pitch you take it on to the pitch.

“It’s one of the qualities we have as a team. It’s a team sport and we always go out and play as a team.

“We showed that on Monday night from the first minute to the last and in the way we came back into the game and won it.”

– Bloodied nose –

Van Gaal has already had his nose bloodied by Swansea during his brief United career.

The Welsh club enjoyed a 1-0 victory at Old Trafford on the opening day of the season, courtesy of Gylfi Sigurdsson’s goal.

However, the Icelandic midfielder believes van Gaal’s team are a different proposition now.

“While it was a fantastic result at Old Trafford for us, United are different now,” Sigurdsson said.

“They are more settled and are winning games and grinding out results – like we saw at Preston in the FA Cup on Monday.

“They’ve found their rhythm and have some great forward players who can turn games around.

“And at the back they’ve got quality in (goalkeeper) David de Gea, who is having a fantastic season.”

Swansea have won just once in the Premier League since Boxing Day and Garry Monk’s side have slipped to ninth in the table.

But Sigurdsson is available again, having served a three-match ban after being sent off at Blackburn in the FA Cup fourth round.

And the former Tottenham midfielder, 25, is desperate to make amends with a strong performance against third-placed United.

“We have got to get better if we want to get a result against them. We lost a bit of form after Christmas but I’m confident we will bounce back,” Sigurdsson said.

“It has been frustrating for the boys too because we haven’t got the results we wanted. But you go through these types of patches in the season when things don’t go your way.

“We need to turn it around and a win against United would certainly do that.

“We beat them on the opening day of the season and it was a great start for us. We went on a good run after that and we’ll look to do the same this time around.”

Photo Credits : AFP

Moyes admits he did ban chips at Man Utd

Former Manchester United manager David Moyes has confirmed he did ban players from eating chips during his brief stint at Old Trafford because he believed some of the squad were overweight.

Rio Ferdinand, in his recent autobiography ‘#2Sides’, was severely critical of the way in which Moyes’s management style after he took over at Old Trafford and highlighted the chip ban as an example of what was wrong with his approach.

United Players had got used to having the low-fat chips as a pre-game ritual on a Friday night under Moyes’s predecessor Alex Ferguson — British football’s most successful manager – but the former Everton boss decided it was a treat they could do without.

“Yes, I did ban chips,” Moyes told Britain’s Four Four Two football magazine. “It was because a couple of players were overweight and I didn’t think chips were good for their diet.”

Moyes was sacked just 10 months into a six-year contract at Old Trafford when it became impossible for the club to qualify for this season’s edition of the lucrative European Champions League.

But the Scot has started to rebuild his reputation with Real Sociedad and last month Moyes guided his new club to a shock 1-0 league win over Spanish giants Barcelona.

Photo Credits : AFP

Manchester United keen on keeping De Gea

Manchester United are determined to hold onto David de Gea, despite having agreed an 18-month contract with former Barcelona goalkeeper Victor Valdes.

The club are set to announce that the 32-year-old has signed on at Old Trafford as understudy to De Gea, having been convinced that the former Barcelona goalkeeper – who has not played since sustaining a serious knee injury nine months ago – is not a long-term medical risk.

But though the decision to sign the Catalonian until 2017 will create doubts about De Gea, who has only 18 months left on his contract, the prospects of Real Madrid bringing the 24-year-old back to Spain this summer are not thought to be substantial. Valdes is considered as a goalkeeper who can provide the kind of genuine competition for De Gea which current No 2 Anders Lindegaard is not offering.

United manager Louis van Gaal has does not consider Lindegaard to be good enough and United had anticipated since the autumn that he would leave Old Trafford this month.