Louis van Gaal believes Wayne Rooney’s fighting spirit can help secure the England captain’s first FA Cup — and the Manchester United manager’s first trophy in English football.
United have had a stop-start season and have often appeared to not be firing on all cylinders, but victory over Arsenal in the FA Cup quarter-final tonight would be a huge boost to Van Gaal’s first season in charge.
Rooney’s never-say-die spirit paid off once again on Wednesday when his refusal to give up on a seeming lost cause forced Newcastle into an error allowing Ashley Young to score a last-minute winner.
Van Gaal said: “He is very motivated as a captain and player and he wants to win a title, and the FA Cup he hasn’t won that yet, so for every player the first time is fantastic.
“For me my first championship was very important and it was also an emotional thing with me.
“You have seen how Wayne was motivated against Newcastle because it was a lost ball and when you see him running and pressing it was fantastic.
“We have showed already a lot of times that we can come back in the last minute even when we are behind and on Wednesday we scored out of nothing as the ball was already lost but because of fighting spirit of Wayne makes it very difficult for the opponent.
“This season we showed fantastic fighting spirit and I’m very proud of my team.”
Van Gaal said the trophy that meant most to him was his first Dutch championship with Ajax, so to win the FA Cup would be a significant moment in his career.
He added: “When you win a title like the FA Cup it’s very important and gives you a lot of value. When you fight for something and you get it then you are pleased.”
Striker Robin van Persie will miss the clash against his old club due to an ankle injury, and defender Jonny Evans will sit out after he was banned by the FA for six matches for spitting at Newcastle’s Papiss Cisse.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved