Louis van Gaal is looking to dampen a second West Ham farewell to Upton Park inside a month when he takes his top-four chasing Manchester United to east London on tonight.
The fixture will mark the last at the Hammers’ current home ahead of their summer move to the Olympic Stadium on a night where emotions among everyone involved with the club will be sky high.
But Van Gaal’s United side go there knowing victory in their final two Premier League games of the season will mean a top-four finish, with neighbours Manchester City now in their sights.
United won 2-1 in an FA Cup sixth-round replay at Upton Park on April 13 on their way to the FA Cup final, in what was the final game at the ground for the famous competition.
And now Van Gaal, who saw the Red Devils win 1-0 at Norwich on Saturday lunchtime, is more interested in taking a valuable three points than setting out with the ambition of spoiling another momentous evening for their hosts.
Asked if United can use the emotion of the night against West Ham, the Dutchman replied: “Yes it is a big night. I think the players shall feel that also.
“Tuesday we have to play against an opponent who says goodbye to the stadium. So they won’t want to lose in their own stadium.
“They have already lost to Man United in the FA Cup match. That is also history. That is not good for us. And West Ham United is a very good team.
“We have a lot of respect for West Ham. I think it is a historical big club in England and so we don’t want to spoil their party but we need the three points and that is different.”
Marouane Fellaini was one of the best players on the park as he scored in United’s recent cup win at West Ham — but the Belgium international is still serving out a three-match ban and will be forced to sit out this time around.
Van Gaal conceded losing the midfielder could have a detrimental effect on his side’s defensive capabilities, especially if they come up against Andy Carroll. “Yes that is true,” he replied when asked about Fellaini’s absence, given he marked Carroll at every West Ham set-piece in that game.
“We are normally the smallest team in the Premier League so we always have problems with set plays.
“We have to cope with that and you are right, I can not deny that. It is the first time we are talking about our opponent and not about my sacking! Thank you, thank you for that.”
Both Daley Blind and Marcus Rashford were left behind for the trip to Norwich as Van Gaal looked to rest his most weary troops, and he also lost Anthony Martial in the warm-up at Carrow Road before Matteo Darmian was stretchered off early on with an ankle injury.
“That always depends on the data of my fatigue specialist,” he replied when asked if Blind and Rashford would return at West Ham.
“I have to decide then on the data of my fatigue specialist who I am taking with me. It is always like that. It can happen that I leave players at home as they are too tired.”
It also remains to be seen if Martial will be fit to return, after Van Gaal confirmed it was more a precaution to not play him at Norwich.
“I cannot say that (he will come back) as we have to wait,” he added.
“We have to wait if his muscle is still tight as I don’t take any risks as he is a very important player. We don’t want a rupture. That is very important for us.”
Meanwhile, Juan Mata is looking forward to playing his part in West Ham’s farewell to Upton Park — a place the Manchester United man says “breathes English football”.
“It’s going to be special,” he wrote in his weekly blog.
“The last official game at the Boleyn Ground, where West Ham has been playing for 112 years. With that image of Bobby Moore, it’s a place that breathes English football... it will be an honour to be there and try to get the last win.”
Jesse Lingard echoed the comments of Mata and insisted United will let nothing get to them tonight.
“These are the games as a player you want to play in, the big-pressure games. We’re ready,” he said.
“Mentally, you’ve got to prepare for that (the attention around Upton Park) and we know there will be a great atmosphere. But we won’t let anything faze us on the day because we have a job to do, which is to get the three points.”
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