Man United must learn to ignore critics, says Van Gaal
REUTERS - Manchester United must learn to ignore their critics as their performances may have been affected by the intense scrutiny the team have been under throughout the campaign, manager Louis van Gaal said on Wednesday
Knocked out of the Champions League and six points behind Manchester City who are fourth in the Premier League, United's fans turned on them last week after the 2-1 first-leg Europa League defeat by Danish team FC Midtjylland.
"Maybe it can be an influence. There is a lot of criticism. They have to use their tools to ignore it. You have to prepare yourself properly. It should not be an influencing subject," Van Gaal told reporters.
However, midfielder Juan Mata insisted he was not influenced by the criticism but he understands the frustrations of the supporters.
"I am not bothered. I was very sad and frustrated because of the result and the fans. Not with the criticism," Mata said on the eve of the second leg against Midtjylland at Old Trafford.
"We feel their frustration because it is our frustration."
With breaking into the top-four in the league looking less likely by the week for United, Mata wants to qualify for the Champions League next season by winning the Europa League.
"Hopefully we can lift the trophy. It has a double meaning. The first time for the club and also win the Europa League to qualify for the Champions League," the Spain international said.
Van Gaal confirmed that United will be without first-choice goalkeeper David de Gea on Thursday, but long-term injury absentee Marcos Rojo is likely to feature for the first time since undergoing shoulder surgery in November.
(Reporting by Shravanth Vijayakumar in Bengaluru, editing by Ed Osmond)