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Van Gaal saves attack for off the pitch

Soccer

If Manchester United went on the attack in games as much as its manager does in news conferences, England’s biggest team may not be in such a rut.

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Fronting media overnight, Australian time, a defiant Louis van Gaal criticised sections of the British media who reported this week he had offered to resign in the wake of United’s latest poor result – a 1-0 home loss to Southampton in the Premier League on Saturday.

“I think it’s awful and horrible,” said Van Gaal, who walked out of a news conference last month. “It’s the third time I’ve been sacked and I’m still sitting here.”

Lose to second-tier Derby in the FA Cup on Friday and even Van Gaal acknowledges the scrutiny could be too much to take.

“Now I cannot lose anymore because I am condemned for the fourth time that I have been sacked,” Van Gaal said. “And maybe then you have written the truth, because sometimes it happens.”

Van Gaal was heckled by fans after the loss to Southampton, with United having won just three of its last 13 games and in fifth place in the Premier League.

United’s style of football under Van Gaal is dull and risk-averse, and the supporters appear to have had enough.

The Dutchman insisted he hadn’t offered to quit, adding that the support of Ed Woodward, United’s executive vice-chairman, was “fantastic.”

“It gives you a lot of pressure because when the board has such confidence in you, the pressure is much higher than when they say it’s your last game,” Van Gaal said.

“Then the confidence is not so high.”

United may be playing Derby just at the right time. The Rams have won only one of their last six games – in the FA Cup third round – and has dropped off the top of the Championship table.

Derby is managed by Paul Clement, the former assistant manager at Real Madrid where he worked under Carlo Ancelotti. Clement said he might speak to Ancelotti before Friday’s game at Pride Park.

“I am not sure it will quite be a giant-killing if we get a good result,” Clement said.

“It is a challenge we are really looking forward to, up against a team that is not in great form.”

-AP

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