Louis van Gaal admits his Manchester United players have driven him to boredom and anger at times this season.
Van Gaal’s future as United boss will be thrown into question again tonight if his team fail to win at Newcastle.
United ended an eight-match winless run by defeating Swansea nine days ago and then followed that victory up with another triumph in the FA Cup against Sheffield United.
Those wins have merely papered over the cracks, however.
The pressure is still on Van Gaal because of the often 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 over League One opposition, the former club great claimed both Van Gaal and his players looked “bored” during the third round tie.
Van Gaal has been at odds with Scholes for much of his 18-month spell at the club, but yesterday the 64-year-old conceded some of the football on display at Old Trafford this season has been rather dull.
“There are matches that I have enjoyed,” Van Gaal said.
“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.”
Van Gaal railed at the suggestion that his primary aim is to stifle the opposition, rather than attack.
“Do you know that?” Van Gaal snapped during an edgy press conference at Carrington. “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.”
So why, after spending over a quarter of a billion pounds on new players, can Van Gaal not inspire his team to perform well on a regular basis?
Is it because he refuses to come to the touchline in matches to bark orders at his players, like Alex Ferguson did?
“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.”
At times yesterday, it seemed as if Van Gaal was in denial. He even offered the theory that traffic could have been to blame for the exodus by scores of supporters before Wayne Rooney’s 93rd minute penalty on Saturday.
“They are not thinking that we would score, I think, and maybe also because of the traffic,” he said.
Ryan Giggs and Scholes were ever-presents during Ferguson’s successful spell at the helm.
Giggs has rarely been allowed to speak in public since he became Van Gaal’s assistant, so his thoughts on Scholes’ criticism of his boss are unknown. “No,” was the flat answer when asked whether Giggs ever discusses Scholes’ criticism of the club.
Van Gaal insists the former winger who symbolised United’s attacking traditions with his playing style, does have serious input when it comes to the team’s current tactics, though.
“He has a lot of influence in our decisions because I communicate every decision with my staff so he can have a big influence,” Van Gaal said.
“I work in a fantastic way with Ryan so that’s the only thing I can say but when you want to hear something about his feelings according to what Paul Scholes or Gary Neville are saying, you have to ask him.”
Meanwhile Newcastle boss Steve McClaren is convinced he will get the help he needs during the January transfer window to turn Newcastle’s season around.
The Magpies head into tonight’s home clash with United sitting in 18th place in the Premier League and having slipped to 1-0 defeats in each of their last four games in all competitions.
It has been glaringly obvious for some time that there are not enough goals in head coach McClaren’s team, with £14.5m summer signing Aleksandar Mitrovic having found the going tough and injuries sidelining Papiss Cisse for much of the campaign and Emmanuel Riviere for all of it to date.
However, as Bordeaux’s Senegal international midfielder Henri Saivet signed yesterday, McClaren — who is also a member of the club’s board — is hopeful that those shortcomings will be addressed.
He said: “It’s good because I know what is going on. If we were not doing everything to rectify it, I would be worried.
“If people weren’t backing us or trying, I would be worried.”
McClaren remained coy over reports that the club has tabled a £10m bid for Swansea midfielder Jonjo Shelvey.
It is understood other targets are also being pursued.
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