Ahead of Manchester United’s game against Leicester City, Louis van Gaal attended the press conference in a very defensive mood.
Leicester could win the league if they beat United on Sunday, which prompted a journalist, Nick Collins from The Telegraph, to ask Van Gaal whether this was a strange position for our club to be in, given our players are so used to winning titles.
Instead of being honest, and accepting that it was a ridiculous that a team who finished sixth in the Championship in 2013, when United last won the league, was now potentially going to claim the title before us at Old Trafford, Van Gaal opted to give a ridiculous answer.
He claimed David de Gea that had never won the league, despite the fact he did in 2013, and that Wayne Rooney and Michael Carrick had won the league once, or “maybe more”, despite the fact they have 10 Premier League winners medals between them.
Van Gaal said that Memphis Depay had experience, after winning the title with PSV last season, but overlooked Bastian Schweinsteiger and his eight Bundesliga titles, Daley Blind’s four league titles wins with Ajax, as well as Marouane Fellaini at Standard Liege, Marcos Rojo at Estudiantes in Argentina, and Sergio Romero as Van Gaal’s goalkeeper with title winning AX Alkmaar. Chris Smalling and Antonio Valencia have won the title with us twice, while Ashley Young and Phil Jones have done it once.
When you break it down, other than United’s academy players, who’ve only just started featuring in the first team, there are just six players in the squad who are “not used to being champions”. Two of those players were teenagers when they signed, Anthony Martial and Luke Shaw. Also, while Juan Mata hasn’t won a league title, he has won the World Cup and European Championship with Spain, as well as the Champions League with Chelsea, which probably suggests he knows exactly how it feels to be a champion. He hasn’t been the champion of England, but he has been the champion of the world and of Europe.
That leaves Ander Herrera, Morgan Schneiderlin and Matteo Darmian. So for Van Gaal to dismiss his players, as “not used to being champions” in a vain attempt to defend the fact he is leading a team of proven winners to fifth in the Premier League, is embarrassing.
Following this answer though, the next question, by the same journalist who asked him the question which prompted the bizarre response about the champions in his team, was about preparation for next season. Why didn’t anyone call him out on the fact he was talking rubbish? He either clearly doesn’t know the recent history of Manchester United, or the background of his players, or he is talking nonsense to cover up his failures. Surely it’s a journalist’s job to pull him up on that? I wonder how many football fans on the continent, who couldn’t really care less about United, would think that Rooney had won the title on just one occasion?
“I am involved,” Van Gaal claimed in response to the final question. “This is logical because I am the manager.”
Hopefully not for much longer.
Made in Manchester is available for just £5. It includes 30 articles from the country's best football writers about graduates from the Manchester United academy. Everyone who buys a copy enters a competition to win the new home shirt. All profit goes to Trafford Macmillan so please support this fantastic cause.