Van Gaal ducks ti­tle talk

Lesotho Times - - Sport -

MANCH­ESTER — Manch­ester United man­ager Louis van Gaal re­fused to look too far ahead in the Premier League ti­tle race de­spite see­ing his side go top af­ter com­fort­ably beat­ing Sun­der­land 3-0.

Manch­ester City’s 4-1 de­feat at Tot­ten­ham Hot­spur ear­lier on Satur­day en­abled United to take top spot for the first time since Van Gaal took charge at the start of last sea­son.

But the Dutch­man be­lieves it is too early to gauge United’s chances of a first ti­tle since leg­endary for­mer man­ager Alex Fer­gu­son de­liv­ered his 13th and fi­nal cham­pi­onship in 2013.

“Ask me that ques­tion again in May,” Van Gaal said to re­porters af­ter goals from Mem­phis De­pay, Wayne Rooney and Juan Mata at Old Traf­ford left Sun­der­land still look­ing for a first win of the sea­son.

“To con­tinue is very dif­fi­cult in this league. Last year when we had 13 points from 10 or 11 matches, we had to chase and at the end of the sea­son we fin­ished fourth.

“This year is a big dif­fer­ence. You can start bet­ter from the top than the bot­tom, but it shall be very dif­fi­cult. In May you can ask me the same ques­tion.

“We have to con­tinue, although we shall lose also. We play away at Ar­se­nal next week and they are one of the most dif­fi­cult teams to beat, but we won there last sea­son so it is pos­si­ble.

“I think Manch­ester United can win against any team, but also you need luck and we had that to­day (Satur­day) be­cause it was the last minute of the first half.”

United opened the scor­ing in the fourth minute of first-half in­jury time when a glo­ri­ous Da­ley Blind pass al­lowed Mata to square for De­pay to score his first league goal since sign­ing from PSV Eind­hoven.

Rooney then ended an 11-game goal drought in the Premier League as he bun­dled in his 171st league goal for the club, draw­ing him level with De­nis Law in third place in United’s all-time list.

“It doesn’t mat­ter who is scor­ing goals or mak­ing goals. I am not in­ter­ested, although per­son­ally for Rooney, De­pay and (An­thony) Mar­tial it’s very im­por­tant,” Van Gaal added.

“I am a happy coach be­cause Rooney and De­pay have scored in the Premier League now and that’s fan­tas­tic for their con­fi­dence.”

Sun­der­land re­main bot­tom of the ta­ble with­out a vic­tory af­ter fail­ing to im­prove on a record that has seen them win just once at Old Traf­ford since 1968.

That came in May 2014, just be­fore Van Gaal’s ap­point­ment at United, as they nar­rowly avoided rel­e­ga­tion and man­ager Dick Ad­vo­caat knows his side needs to im­prove if they are to avoid that fate this time.

Sun­der­land have the worst de­fen­sive record in the di­vi­sion and although they pro­duced a dis­ci­plined per­for­mance, they switched off when Pa­trick van Aan­holt al­lowed Mata to get in be­hind him for De­pay’s opener.

And less than 60 sec­onds into the sec­ond half they con­ceded again to Rooney be­fore Mata com­pleted the scor­ing in the last minute.

“We can’t keep say­ing we will take the good things out of the game,” Ad­vo­caat said. “You can say we were well or­gan­ised against a good team like United, but we gave the game away in two min­utes.

“Against a team like United, at 2-0 down it’s quite dif­fi­cult to come back. I can ac­cept los­ing some­times, but we made it very easy for them in the sec­ond half.

“Do we have to change things in the squad? That’s what we have to think about, but we don’t have much op­por­tu­nity.”

Fix­tures Oct 3: Crys­tal Palace v West Brom, Nor­wich v Le­ices­ter, Man City v New­cas­tle, Sun­der­land v West Ham, As­ton Villa v Stoke, Bournemouth v Wat­ford, Chelsea v Southamp­ton. Oct 4: Ever­ton v Liver­pool, Ar­se­nal v Man United, Swansea v Tot­ten­ham.

— AFP

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