Louis van Gaal has called on his players to end the “awful” feeling he has endured since he watched Manchester United crumble to a 3-0 defeat at Arsenal a fortnight ago.
Van Gaal had taken United to the top of the Barclays Premier League following a run of three straight wins, but the Dutchman suffered a blow on the eve of the international break when his team were easily beaten by Arsenal.
Alexis Sanchez scored twice and Mesut Ozil also found the net in the rout at the Emirates Stadium. Had the Gunners taken all their chances, it could have been a real hammering.
The result was a chastening one for Van Gaal. And after a fortnight spent analysing the wreckage, his mood has not got any better.
“It has been an awful two weeks,” the United manager said ahead of Saturday’s game at Everton.
”Before the last international break in September we lost against Swansea. These are awful weeks.
”You are constantly thinking about how it happened. You cannot manage it with your players. That is what you have to do as a manager.
”But all the players are flying out, especially the last game because we played on a Sunday. They fly out direct after the match.”
Van Gaal has been analysing footage of the defeat while most of his players have been away on international duty.
He says everyone at the club – right down to cook Mike Donnelly – must take responsibility for the defeat.
“It is not only the players,” Van Gaal added.
“It is also the staff and all the members of the staff and also my cook Mike because he has a big influence in the atmosphere in the canteen.
“A lot of people are always important in this.
“We cannot accept it from each other because we want to be the champions so then you have to behave like a champion and also to improve yourself, to be in the future the champion so you have to improve every time.”
The good news for Van Gaal is that most of his players have returned from international duty without injury.
Wayne Rooney and Michael Carrick missed England’s games against Estonia and Lithuania due to ankle and groin problems respectively, but both are fit to feature at Goodison Park.
Ashley Young is out with a calf problem, but Bastian Schweinsteiger is fit despite missing Germany’s last two internationals with a back complaint.
The only major injury is to Paddy McNair, who damaged his liver during Northern Ireland’s final Euro 2016 qualifier in Finland. The centre-back, who has made one substitute appearance for United this season, is out for a month.
Those who have returned fit are ready to right the wrongs of the Arsenal performance, according to Van Gaal.
”Of course I am confident because I have seen the training sessions. I have seen the reaction of my players, so I am confident,” he said.
Van Gaal has offered words of comfort to Daley Blind and Memphis Depay after their chastening week with Holland, who failed to qualify for the European Championship.
“The main aspect of my philosophy is the total human being principle so I have to see how they come back from that defeat of course,” he said.
“I have but I have to make a decision, it’s not easy.”
Given that Van Gaal led Holland to third in the World Cup last year, their failure to qualify for France 2016 came as a huge shock.
The 64-year-old was unwilling to speculate on why the Dutch, managed by his former Ajax player Danny Blind, had flopped.
“It’s disappointing, of course, but I can’t judge,” Van Gaal said.
“A lot of people can judge (from) over 2,000 miles (away), but I cannot judge. I don’t have the experience, I don’t see the training sessions or the preparation.
“I don’t see all the players that my colleague can select, so I don’t have any opinion.”