Louis Van Gaal gives Manchester United players a break
Players rewarded with time off after finally halting the club’s recent winless streak
Louis van Gaal: has come under pressure at Old Trafford following a disappointing run of results. Photograph: Oli Scarff/AFP/Getty Images
Louis van Gaal has given his Manchester United players time off following Saturday’s victory over Swansea City, which was a first win in nine games.
The 2-1 victory lifted United to 33 points, three behind Tottenham Hotspur in the fourth Champions League berth. It is also the first time Van Gaal has avoided defeat to the Welsh club since he took over as manager at the start of last season.
Van Gaal praised his players’ performance given the pressure of their recent winless run and following the busy festive programme and allowed them to take Sunday and the start of the week off.
After recharging their batteries, Van Gaal’s squad will return to training before Saturday’s visit of Sheffield United in the FA Cup third round.
Juan Mata hopes the victory over Swansea will start a positive run of results.
“Luckily, I feel that we have started 2016 with energy and that our negative streak – much longer than it should be – has been left behind,” he wrote on his blog. “Finally, we did it on Saturday against Swansea. You could see how tough it was, but I think we deserved the three points. I hope this is going to be the start of a good run of results. It depends on us.
“They were a difficult opponent with good players who have made things tough for us in the last few seasons, but this time we were able to win so we start 2016 in the best possible way.”
Manchester United’s style of play under Louis van Gaal has been criticised by the chief executive of sports company Adidas, who signed a £750 million kit sponsorship deal with the club last summer.
A total of just 15 goals have been scored at Old Trafford this season, the lowest of the 92 league clubs, and Van Gaal’s position remains precarious with United currently in fifth place and out of the Champions League. The comments made by Herbert Hainer, whose company agreed a 10-year deal to replace Nike as the Red Devils’ kit sponsor last summer, will not have helped.
“Business with Man United is going very well, we sell more shirts than expected,” he told the newspaper Suddeutsche Zeitung. “We are satisfied . . . even if the current playing style of Man United is not exactly what we want to see.”