Louis van Gaal Says Manchester United Still 'Better Than Last Year' After UCL Exit

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Louis van Gaal Says Manchester United Still 'Better Than Last Year' After UCL Exit

Louis van Gaal was visibly disappointed following Manchester United's Champions League exit at the hands of Wolfsburg, but he maintained that United are still "are better than last year."

United crashed out of Europe's elite club competition after a 3-2 defeat in Germany, with PSV Eindhoven's 2-1 win over CSKA Moscow condemning them to third spot in Group B and a place in the Europa League.
Manchester United players appeal after having a goal disallowed.
Manchester United players appeal after having a goal disallowed.
Yet despite failing to get through a relatively easy group -- and failing to win over disgruntled supporters -- Van Gaal insisted United were on the right track with him at the helm.
"At the moment I cannot defend myself because we are out of the Champions League," the United manager said. "Every word that I say is the wrong word.

"But when you see the facts we went further in the Capital One Cup [this season], qualified for the Champions League group, we have played all these matches and are still in a very good position in the league.

"The facts say we are better than last year. That's my answer because I can only give facts. I'm also disappointed that we are out of the Champions League."

Jesse Lingard controversially had a goal disallowed for offside just before the break, which would have levelled matters, and Van Gaal felt that was a key moment in the match.

The goal originally looked to have been given, only for the linesman to lift up his flag after consulting with the referee, believing Juan Mata -- standing in an offside position -- to have interfered with Diego Benaglio's view.

Van Gaal told BT Sport: "You can say that we were the favourites but we were in a very tight group. All the results are like that, they're always 1-0 or 2-1.

"When you overview everything you remember the first match with PSV Eindhoven was also [against us with] the decisions of the referee. And also today, the decisions of the referee, that is not a positive for us. So when it's a tight group, this can happen.

"When you see that [the disallowed goal] as a linesman then you are very good and you give first that it is a goal and then a few players come and say to you, and then you change your mind, it's strange in my opinion.
Manchester United failed to advance from the group stage of the Champions League for the fourth time
Manchester United failed to advance from the group stage of the Champions League for the fourth time
"OK, but I don't think that the goalkeeper was interfered by Mata because the ball is turning in the goal so I don't think he can reach that ball, but of course he sees Mata in the offside position and he takes the benefit of that and they are criticising the referee.''

Van Gaal refused to lay into his players with a patched-up team that ended the game with Nick Powell, Guillermo Varela and Cameron Borthwick-Jackson on the pitch,

"It was a crazy match," Van Gaal said. "We didn't score many goals before and in an away match you score two goals -- maybe three but one was cancelled out.

"But you two times give away a goal within two minutes of scoring, that's difficult to understand when you defend so well normally."

The Dutchman's injury problems worsened further on Tuesday when Chris Smalling hobbled through the final minutes and Matteo Darmian came off injured in the first half.

"We have to play the match with a lot of injuries and also the last 15-20 minutes we had to play with 10 players you have to analyse that also," he said.

On playing in the Europe's second-tier competition, Van Gaal added: "I haven't thought about that at this moment. I am very disappointed, the players are very disappointed. This is the league where we wanted to show our qualities, and we cannot do that anymore."

And he did not include the Europa League when listing the goals remaining this season.

"I've said to the players, now it's over in the Champions League," he added. "You cannot show your qualities any more on the highest podium. It's a pity but we have a lot to fight for -- the FA Cup and the Premier League."

For Wolfsburg, the stand-out moment of the match came when Julian Draxler and Max Kruse combined brilliantly to lay Wolfsburg's second on a plate for Vieirinha.

The goals corer told German broadcaster Deutsche Welle: "It's a beautiful goal. The combination of Julian Draxler and Max Kruse was amazing and as I just said, I had the easy job of just putting the ball into the net.

"We knew it would be a difficult game, but we also knew we could beat them. I think in the first game in Old Trafford we showed what we can do and I think tonight we played superbly and the result cannot be contested."
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