Jan 06, 2015

    Van Gaal delighted at win but counts injury cost


    MANCHESTER United manager Louis van Gaal said that the Christmas period had been a triumph for his team after they beat Yeovil Town to reach the FA Cup fourth round.

    While Sunday's 2-0 win against third-tier opponents who sat 65 places below them in the league ladder was to be expected, the Dutchman was pleased to achieve it, despite picking up two more injured defenders along the way. Right-back Rafael da Silva suffered a possible fractured cheekbone, while left-back Luke Shaw had an ankle problem. Both were substituted at half-time.

    "I'm very happy that we have survived this festive period, because I don't have a big squad because of all the injuries. I had a small squad," said van Gaal after the match.

    "I could not change much and, in spite of that, we have regained ground on Chelsea by one point (in the Premier League) after the festive period and we are in the fourth round of the FA Cup. What more can a manager wish for?

    "I have heard from my fantastic assistant manager (Ryan Giggs) that United have not won the FA Cup for 10 years and maybe we can do that this year. But it is a very long way."

    Ander Herrera's superb 64th-minute strike from outside the penalty area put United ahead, before a calm finish from substitute Angel di Maria sealed United's progress in the final minute of the match.

    Rafael left Yeovil's Huish Park stadium early to have his injury assessed, and van Gaal praised the Brazilian for his commitment while sympathising with his misfortune in getting injured.

    "He played through (the pain), because the last few weeks, he didn't play and now he is injured," said the Dutchman. "He has a fantastic mentality, it's unbelievable."

    Van Gaal was pleased with how his side went about their business, and that di Maria got some time on the pitch after missing the last two weeks with hamstring and pelvic problems.

    "We didn't have the patience in the first half," he said. "We wanted to make the first goal too much and I changed the shape. We had a man more in midfield then, and we kept the ball better.

    "We have a lot of pace in our attack and that is why I selected (James) Wilson and later I gave di Maria 30 minutes, because he needs to build up his match rhythm.

    "It's not a matter of how far below us they were because when you see the performance of Yeovil Town and how they press the ball, the ball was always under pressure and you can do that with an amateur team also."

    In Manchester, City manager Manuel Pellegrini was left a relieved man after a brace from James Milner secured a 2-1 win over Sheffield Wednesday.

    "I'm relieved because I think we didn't play well," said the Chilean. "We played very badly, except the last 20 minutes, when maybe we found another gear and tried to create space against a team that defended very well."

    He hopes to reward Milner, 29, with a new contract. The former Leeds United, Newcastle United and Aston Villa player, who ended a run of over two years without a goal on Sunday, will be out of contract at the end of the season.

    "I hope we will find an arrangement," Pellegrini said. "I've already said what I think about James Milner. He's a very useful player. I brought him on in our last game as a substitute and I think he made more chances than a lot of players, three or four clear chances.

    "He always plays at 100 per cent commitment and intensity for the team so I am happy with him."