Manchester United away form isn't good enough admits Louis van Gaal - at least if they want serious Premier League title challenge

United drew their third match in four with their 1-1 draw with Stoke

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The Independent Online

Louis van Gaal admits Manchester United have no chance of winning the title unless their away form improves.

United stretched their unbeaten run to 10 matches at Stoke on New Year's Day, but they could not achieve the win they were looking for.

Instead, United had to settle for a 1-1 draw as Radamel Falcao cancelled out Ryan Shawcross' second-minute strike.

Chelsea's shock defeat at Spurs meant United's standing in the league actually improved despite the disappointing stalemate at the Britannia Stadium.

Van Gaal's team are now nine points behind new leaders Manchester City, but the United boss knows his team would be just three points shy of the summit had they won rather than drawn their last three away games at Aston Villa, Tottenham and Stoke.

"When you want to win the league you have to win away from home, and at the minute we aren't doing that," Van Gaal said.

"We aren't losing, but we aren't winning either. If you want to be a champion, you have to win these games."

In reality, United were lucky to leave a blustery Staffordshire with a point.

Mame Biram Diouf missed a very good chance to put the hosts 2-0 up and they were unlucky not to be awarded a penalty in the second half when Peter Crouch's header struck Chris Smalling's arm in the box.

 

Stoke manager Mark Hughes was angry with referee Michael Oliver for not awarding the spot-kick, and for waving away another penalty appeal when Geoff Cameron was held in the box following a frantic scramble that came after Crouch had struck the woodwork.

"We had two clear penalties that should have been given," the Stoke manager said. '

'With the first one it was a goal-bound header and he (Smalling) has made an intentional movement with his arm to bat the ball down.

"The referee is standing four or five yards away. Why he hasn't given it, I don't know.

"I haven't spoke to the ref about it. It's a waste of time.

"He will no doubt say the lad couldn't get out of the way because he was too close maybe but I don't think that was the case.

"And when we hit the post from Peter's header it's come back out and Geoff Cameron has been taken out, he was waiting to put the ball over the line and was taken out.

"From our point of view they were two clear-cut penalties."

United, meanwhile, will be without Ashley Young for some time after he pulled up with a hamstring injury in the second half.

"He will be out for many weeks," Van Gaal said.

PA

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