Louis van Gaal wary as Wolfbsurg await for Man United

Manchester United 0 West Ham 0
Louis van Gaal wary as Wolfbsurg await for Man United

But when pressed, he did concede that failure to progress to the knock-out stages would be a blow to a club the Dutchman is trying to restore to something like the former force it previously was at home and in Europe.

Van Gaal said: “We don’t want to be eliminated. But in sport it is always possible. You can’t win every year or every game. It’s not like that.

“It’s a very important game for us at this moment because of the situation. We are not scoring out of many chances and we have to score at Wolfsburg.

“Because of that it’s a n important game, that we score and come through in the Champions League.

“The Premier League is not finished. It finishes in May, not now. The Champions League, you could be out. And that is bad for everybody, for the club, for the players, and for the manager.”

For United to reach the last 16 in Europe they must match the result PSV Eindhoven manage at home to CSKA Moscow, the bottom team in Group B.

That scenario emerged after United could only draw with PSV in their penultimate group fixture, a scoreline they repeated against West Ham on Saturday, raising further doubts about their ability to go and win in Wolfsburg — the only result that would guarantee qualification and as group winners.

United have now failed to score in five home games this season and four of their last six matches at Old Trafford have ended in goalless draws. That statistic, rather than the performance against the Hammers, was probably behind another show of frustration from the home the supporters at the final whistle.

Van Gaal’s side had plenty of chances to win — as did the Hammers, notably through Victor Moses and Mauro Zarate who both missed one-on-ones — but only two efforts were on target with the lack of a proven goalscorer becoming increasingly evident.

In the absence of the misfiring Wayne Rooney, Maroune Fellaini started only his second Premier League game of the season and came as close to anyone in a United shirt to easing the problem.

But Fellaini was denied by Adrian’s superb second-half close-range save, while Anthony Martial — with only one goal since September — was thwarted by a brave block from a West Ham defender and then steered a shot inches wide from Memphis Depay’s pull-back as United’s late surge failed to break the deadlock.

Van Gaal knows there is a problem but has to keep backing his players to come good, playing down suggestions they have a mental block in front of goal.

“It’s always possible, but that you cannot prove. What you are saying you cannot prove,” he added.

“They are admitting they have to score. That’s a normal issue. But you can’t score every chance and when you see how many players get chances in our team it’s not a fixed person.

“A lot of players have missed chances today — a lot of players, and different, players. We can make a big issue of it but I don’t believe we have to do that. It’s not a law that we miss all the chances we have created. It’s not every match like that. I have great confidence that we shall score at Wolfsburg.”

United need every bit of confidence they can get and despite adding to their problems at the weekend, West Ham boss Slaven Bilic believes they are capable of getting the result they to need in Germany.

“United can score goals. They have the quality of the players like Martial,” said Bilic, whose side also twice hit the post at Old Trafford and who felt Bastian Schweinsteiger should have been sent off for elbowing the outstanding Reid.

“Man United don’t have to win 5-0. They can play a normal game and they are going to create the chances through the game. But Wolfsburg have players who can harm you if you are not organised, and especially if you lose the ball too early.”

MANCHESTER UNITED (4-2-3-1): De Gea 7; McNair 5 (Pereira ht, 6), Smalling 7, Blind 6, Darmian 6; Schneiderlin 5 (Carrick 44, 6), Schweinsteiger 6 (Memphis 73); Mata 7, Fellaini 7, Lingard 7; Martial 6.

Subs not used: Romero, Young, Varela, Borthwick-Jackson.

WEST HAM UNITED (4-2-3-1): Adrian 7; Tomkins 7, Reid 8, Ogbonna 7, Cresswell 7; Song 7 (Obiang 79), Kouyate 7; Moses 6 (Antonio 37, 7), Noble 7, Zarate 6 (Jenkinson 88); Carroll 7.

Subs not used: Randolph, Collins, Jelavic, Oxford.

Referee: Mark Clattenburg 7

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