Van Gaal demands killer instinct

Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal wants his side to get more ruthless and start killing off games.

The Dutchman, who has now been in charge at Old Trafford for three months, believes his players understand his methods.

But results indicate the team still have much work to do to reach the standards being demanded of them by the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss.

United have won their last two games after an underwhelming start to the campaign but they were left hanging on against both West Ham and Everton.

Van Gaal said: “I think they do understand the philosophy but they have to ’perform’ that philosophy. We have to see if it works at a higher level.

“I am looking for more balance in the team, not only spectacular and attacking football. When you lose the ball, you must have a shape as a team, and then you can defend more easily, and you can kill the game better. That is also a part of the philosophy.

“I am always choosing more creative, attacking football players but we are looking for that balance.”

When he arrived in July, Van Gaal warned that it could take three months for his philosophy to take hold.

The 63-year-old is confident United, who endured a miserable last campaign and finished seventh in the Premier League, are heading in the right direction.

He also has confidence in his own ability, even though he accepts expressing that faith in himself could come across as arrogance.

Speaking at his latest news conference, Van Gaal said: “How do I respond? When I respond, I am arrogant because normally, I am always moving in the right direction. I have shown that already.

“How do I respond? No, I am not moving in the right direction? I have confidence in myself and in my players and I think that is very important.

“But it is much more important that the players have confidence in the manager and his staff.

“Of course we could have done better because I don’t think that we are in balance now. I am sorry to say that, but it is the truth.

“When you see Everton, the last 30 minutes, or Leicester, the last 30 minutes, or West Ham, the last 30 minutes — when you see the first 60 minutes, it is fantastic.

“You can say you are not fit enough but I don’t believe that. It is another question we are looking for and we are looking for that in training sessions, evaluation sessions and in the images.

“I hope that we shall improve in that matter.”

United climbed to fourth in the Premier League with victory over Everton in their last outing, and return to action at West Brom on Monday.

Van Gaal delivered positive news on the injury front, revealing that only four players now remain on his casualty list. They are defenders Jonny Evans and Paddy McNair and midfielders Jesse Lingard and Antonio Valencia.

That means the likes of Ander Herrera, Chris Smalling, Ashley Young, Phil Jones and Michael Carrick are in contention to return. Midfielder Herrera, who has been sidelined with a rib problem, could play wearing a protective corset.

England captain Wayne Rooney is still suspended but none of the players on international duty in the past fortnight have returned injured. Van Gaal said: “We have only four players injured now, that is good and I was very happy because there are no injuries from the international games. The players who are recovering are not able to play (in training) — you need also ‘play rhythm’ — but we’re in a good way, I think.”


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