Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal left his press conference in a huff, claiming that those who questioned Radamel Falcao’s record since he had replaced Danny Welbeck were happy and taking great satisfaction at the player’s expense.
Van Gaal deals badly with criticism and though he did not deny that £265,000-a-week Falcao’s four goals were a poor return he claimed the player had provided “stimulation” for his team-mates in return for his colossal take-home pay. “He has scored four goals and three or four assists,” van Gaal said. “[There is] his contribution and he stimulates also the other players so that is an aspect of a profession. But it is now easy for you to say that [he has scored too few.] You are very happy to say that. I see that in your face.”
Van Gaal’s prickly response to questions is not helping his reputation at a time when United are going to fail for the first time since 1989 to win a trophy in two consecutive seasons – and also look inferior to Liverpool, as the two fight with Tottenham and Southampton for fourth spot. With no sign of his command of English improving, he appears to need serious communications advice.
Selling Welbeck had been the right decision, he said. “Yes. That is always also in football happens. It was also a surprise that Wenger put him in the line-up in that position. Also, a lot of times against the club who a player was playing for because he shall be very motivated but I think we gave that goal particularly.”
Van Gaal said he had “already spoken” to Angel di Maria about him pulling at the referee Michael Oliver’s shirt after being booked for simulation – thus earning a red card. The Dutchman said he would need to view the incident on film before knowing whether he could criticise him. “In Spain he knows that he doesn't touch the referee, but that is also in his emotion. I've already spoken with him, he knows my opinion but also I have to see on the video,” van Gaal said. "I think he's touched the referee and that's forbidden in every country, so he has no excuses.
Van Gaal made a veiled criticism of referee Oliver for blowing his whistle too much and claimed that United were defeated by their own failings, rather than Arsenal’s achievements. Though any side’s success is dependent, to an extent, on their opponent’s performance, van Gaal’s assessment of Arsenal was ungenerous and unfair. Arsene Wenger's were the better side and deserved to win.
Van Gaal said: “To see every decision of the referee in the circumstance, he whistles and so I want to see that on videotape how he has decided and in what way but I know of course and also Angel Di Maria knows that he doesn’t have to touch the referee so that is not so smart of him but to control emotion is not so easy in such a match but I have mentioned it also before the match because I know that these kind of matches a red card is easy.
“I think it is very disappointing when you give the victory. You doesn’t lose from your opponent, you have lost from yourself. That is the right expression I think and that is v disappointing. The players are v disappointed because you know that it could be different.”
The mnager refused to criticise Antonio Valencia, describing the full-back a “my best man” despite him making poor errors that were crucial to both Arsenal’s goals. United’s defence was generally unstable and vulnerable.
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