Van Gaal says he has won hearts and minds

Manchester United manager says he receives the ‘highest credit’ from his players

Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal applauds the FA Cup match against Preston North End. Photograph: Carl Recine/Reuters

Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal applauds the FA Cup match against Preston North End. Photograph: Carl Recine/Reuters

 

Louis van Gaal believes he has won the hearts and minds of his Manchester United squad and the club’s fans, saying he receives the “highest credit” from players and that he benefits from a “fantastic” understanding of his vision from supporters in the face of criticism of the team’s sluggish play.

Van Gaal admits United can play better, yet they have been beaten only once in 19 games ahead of today’s trip to Swansea City. On Monday United reached an FA Cup quarter-final against Arsenal by defeating Preston North End 3-1 after conceding the first goal. This followed a last-gasp equaliser at West Ham United.

United stand third and are two victories away from the FA Cup final. Asked if enough credit was being given to him, Van Gaal said: “The credit I get is from the players, the highest credit what I can get.”

In a Manchester Evening News poll, 80 per cent of fans said they understood the direction Van Gaal was taking the club. When this was put to the manager, he laughed and said: “Over 80 per cent? Unbelievable. In spite of your [the media’s] criticism, fantastic. Thank you. I can repeat it, more than 80 per cent.”

In Van Gaal’s opening competitive match, United lost 2-1 at home to Swansea. He said his players’ confidence had been “smashed” following a successful summer tour. He now thinks belief has been restored. Robin van Persie and Phil Jones are available again following injury. Guardian Service

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