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Man United's injuries pile up to give Van Gaal more problems

Man United's injuries pile up to give Van Gaal more problems

By The Associated Press | Posted - Dec. 11, 2015 at 6:00 a.m.


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MANCHESTER, England (AP) — Under mounting pressure following Manchester United's early Champions League exit, Louis van Gaal says it must adjust its lofty expectations because its status as a European superpower isn't the same as 10 years ago.

Van Gaal appeared irritated on Friday when asked if United would be happy to just win the much-maligned Europa League this season, after dropping out of the Champions League.

"Just? You think it's 'just?' I'm not thinking like that," he said sharply.

"We are now in the Europa League, so now we have to win the Europa League. That's not easy. I can say that in advance, but nobody hears me. They don't want to hear me, because a club like United has to win. That's the past. You have to analyze the club now, and not compare it with 10 years ago. There is an evolution in football, in European football."

In Van Gaal's 18-month tenure, United has spent $375 million in rebuilding the squad, and the Dutchman has been widely criticized for his team's defensive style. United is fourth in the English Premier League, three points off the lead, but has struggled for goals.

"The problem is that we have to meet with the expectations, and the expectations at a club like Manchester United are very high," Van Gaal said.

"You have to manage that you have good results and are progressing, and that we are doing. I think in the outside world, it's more a problem than in our inside world."

Van Gaal shrugged off reports that his assistant, United great Ryan Giggs, was being lined up as the potential new manager of Swansea following its firing of Garry Monk on Wednesday.

"First, I have to speak with Ryan Giggs by himself when it is true. I think he is coming to me," Van Gaal said. "I never read the papers and think it is the truth."

United's injury problems have intensified, with the team missing nine players — including his six most senior defenders — for the Premier League match against Bournemouth on Saturday.

Chris Smalling and Matteo Darmian joined an injury list that already includes fellow defenders Marcos Rojo, Luke Shaw, Antonio Valencia, and Phil Jones.

With Wayne Rooney and Ander Herrera also injured, and Bastian Schweinsteiger suspended, Van Gaal will field a patched-up team at Bournemouth as United looks to rebound from a loss to Wolfsburg on Tuesday that eliminated the team from the Champions League.

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