'One point not good enough for United'

SHORT-LIVED JOY: United's Mata celebrating after scoring a goal during their EPL match against Sunderland.


    Aug 26, 2014

    'One point not good enough for United'


    LOUIS van Gaal has demanded an immediate improvement from Manchester United after admitting their start to the season has not been good enough.

    They avoided matching their worst opening sequence to a Premier League campaign since 1992, by earning a point with an unconvincing display in a 1-1 draw at Sunderland on Sunday.

    But after the first-day defeat at home by Swansea, the new Old Trafford manager was left with much to ponder - his assertion that his side need a miracle to win the title this season looking increasingly accurate.

    He revealed that confidence was low after seeing Juan Mata's goal at the Stadium of Light cancelled out by Sunderland's Jack Rodwell, to leave the former champions five points behind the early pace-setters in their attempts to improve on a disappointing seventh-place finish in May.

    "So much is down to confidence," van Gaal said. "In pre-season, our confidence was much better than it is now.

    "We're working hard to improve and if we win the next match, then that confidence will start to come back."

    The Dutchman added: "The players are disappointed because we thought we would win today, and yet we have one point and it's not good enough for Manchester United.

    "I can't say it was a better performance than last week because we didn't create as many chances as against Swansea. Our passing needs to be better because we gave the ball away a lot."

    Van Gaal could not lift spirits with a positive update on United's pursuit of Real Madrid's Angel di Maria, as he remained cautious over the prospects of signing the Argentinian midfielder for £60 million (S$124 million).

    "I can't say about transfers at the moment," he explained. "When a transfer has been finished, then we can say something, but now you have to wait and see.

    "The club has to announce it."

    Showing that his sense of humour has not been diminished by his testing introduction to life at Old Trafford, van Gaal added: "People have asked me if I like di Maria. Well, I like Lionel Messi also. There are a lot of players in the world I like, but they can't always come here."

    United return to action against MK Dons in the League Cup today but it remains to be seen if defender Chris Smalling, who limped off before half-time with a groin injury, will be fielded.

    Smalling's woe adds to their lengthy injury list, and van Gaal said: "We had seven players out injured before this game, so now with Chris, that's eight.

    "It's too early to say if he might be out for some time. I'm not a doctor. It's an unusual situation to have four midfield players out injured. That would impact any club.

    "That's why I played Adnan Januzaj in central midfield when I brought him on."

    Sunderland coach Gus Poyet refused to write off United, despite his men being the "best team for long spells".

    "They will finish in the top four," the Uruguayan said. "It's a different set-up for them, without doubt, and it's strange to see them playing three at the back, but give van Gaal time and he will get things right."