Manchester United vs Cambridge: 'Everything is against us for Cup replay,' insists Louis van Gaal

The fourth-round tie ended 0-0

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The Independent Football

As he prepared to face the Cambridge United side that humbled him in the FA Cup, Louis van Gaal insisted “everything is against Manchester United”.

At the Abbey Stadium, where the League Two team held Manchester United to a goalless draw on live television in their fourth-round tie 11 days ago, Van Gaal thought the pitch and the referee were against them.

Although Cambridge will have to cope with the expanses of Old Trafford’s pitch and the biggest crowd most of them will ever perform in front of for the replay this evening, the United manager still thought the tide of events would be against his players.

This time, it would be the wave of public sentiment willing Cambridge, whose players were told they would have to pay for new shirts if they swapped them after the final whistle, to pull off one of the greatest of FA Cup upsets.


“They will be coming with two rows of four and you have to score the first goal,” said Van Gaal yesterday. “It is not such an easy game. It is what I have already said; everything is against you at Manchester United and everything is in favour of the underdog.

“It is the same from you, in the press, but you do it unconsciously,” he added. When it was pointed out that most journalists at Old Trafford would be consciously wanting Cambridge to win because it was a better story, the Dutchman laughed and said: “That is conscious [bias] that is not good but it is human and I forgive you.”

The odds are overwhelmingly stacked in the hosts’ favour. The rule for giant-killing is that you had better kill your giant at the first attempt because virtually all FA Cup replays go to form.

Manchester United will go into tonight’s game with much the same resolve as they brought to bear on Leicester City on Saturday. Van Gaal ranked the 5-3 defeat they suffered at the King Power Stadium in September as among his worst in 25 years of management. By half-time at Old Trafford, United were 3-0 up.

“Everyone wanted revenge,” he said. “Wayne Rooney said before the start of the Leicester match, ‘Do you remember how we lost that?’ There is the same feeling with Cambridge.

“But the greater motivator is the FA Cup. When there are a lot of high-potential winners already out, then your chance is bigger,” said Van Gaal, who has won domestic cups with Ajax, Barcelona and Bayern Munich and who expressed his surprise that Manchester United had not lifted the FA Cup since 2004.

“It is better not to have played this game because we should have finished it in Cambridge,” he said. “In spite of all the criticism we have had from you and your colleagues in the press, we are still in the FA Cup and a lot of teams are not.”