Louis van Gaal believes Barcelona, Bayern want to avoid Manchester United in the UCL group stage
After a comprehensive 0-4 away victory over Club Brugge in the second leg of the Champions League qualifiers that ensured Manchester United’s passage to the group stage of the competition, Louis van Gaal spoke to BT Sport as reported by the club’s official website. The Dutch manager showed immense confidence in his team and especially his striker and captain Wayne Rooney who ended his goal drought in style with a hattrick against the Belgian team.
United return to the presigious European competition after having spent a year away due to their failure to qualify for it in the disastrous reign of David Moyes. The club achieved a 7-1 aggregate win over Brugge to really cement their place in the competition and will be placed into Pot 2 owing to a good UEFA coefficient ranking that is calculated based on their performance in the competition for the last 5 years.
Van Gaal’s side cruised past Brugge with ease as they scored goals at regular intervals to demoralise the home side in the second leg and grabbed the initiative. The fact that they led 3-1 from the first leg only heaped more pressure on their opposition. Speaking to BT Sport after the game, the Red Devils’ manager praised his side’s organisation.
He said: “Yes we think that we were very organised and we played the ball more simply than before. You can create in the gaps, we have done that and we scored. That is also good.”
Though United were expected to win the tie, Van Gaal pointed out that the task they had was not as easy as people would have thought it would be. He also praised his defence, mentioning the 4 clean sheets United have kept in 5 games so far in all competitions. The only one they conceded this season came against Brugge in the first leg in the form of an own goal off Michael Carrick.
Speaking on the team’s overall confidence, the United boss added: “We already believe, I don’t think that shall change. We need more victories like this. For the fourth time we kept a clean sheet and created a lot of chances, because Brugge must come [and attack], they were very open. It was relatively easy, but you have to do it as it's not so easy as everybody thinks. I was happy.”
Wayne Rooney’s form
Going into the game, the United captain’s form would have been a point of concern for his manager as the striker had failed to score in 10 games for his club. The Dutchman praised Rooney for his mentality through the difficult period.
On being asked if Rooney would be helped by his hattrick, Van Gaal replied, “Yes of course, every goal shall give confidence to every player and also to Wayne. But I am very happy for him. He was generous to give the penalty to Chicha but I think it was a slip. I haven’t seen the images again yet… Wayne has the best mentality that you can imagine. Such players of that level shall always come back."
On United’s chances in the Champions League
While Van Gaal said he would miss the Champions League draw because he wanted to watch his second team in action against Ajax as he personally could not influence the draw. Nonetheless, when he was asked about the club’s chances in this year’s competition, he said it was a concern for the future and that his primary focus remained the weekend’s fixture against Swansea.
When the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich manager was probed further about whether he would be looking to avoid his two former clubs in particlular, Van Gaal had a confident response.
He said: “I don’t think they want to draw us!”
While the Dutchman’s faith in his team seems unshakeable, he did admit that the Champions has changed over the years, he said: “Of course I have seen matches on the television and I think that it is the highest podium. It was also ten years and it was twenty years ago, it is the highest podium that you can show yourself or your team. It is fantastic to be a participant.”