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Louis van Gaal: goals don’t mean United’s style has changed

Wayne Rooney scored the final goal against Stoke in Manchester United’s 3-0 league win. Photograph: Nigel Roddis/EPAWayne Rooney scored the final goal against Stoke in Manchester United’s 3-0 league win. Photograph: Nigel Roddis/EPA

Louis van Gaal has dismissed the claims of Wayne Rooney and Jesse Lingard that Manchester United’s recent improved displays are because of the manager allowing his players more freedom.

United travel to Chelsea on Sunday having beaten Stoke City 3-0 on Tuesday night and Derby County 3-1 in the FA Cup fourth round, having scored more than two only once since mid-October, the 3-3 draw at Newcastle United.

But Van Gaal said: “I’m not agreeing with the remark of Wayne Rooney when he said that. Because it is only that they have more confidence. And it is especially so with Wayne Rooney who is saying that because he has scored seven goals in a row. Then he can say that he is playing with more freedom because he has more confidence.

“But you want to write that it’s because he gets another training session in another style, because Louis van Gaal gives more freedom. No, it is still the same. We train still the same, the same way. It is not because of the change of attitude of Mr Louis van Gaal or another way of training. No. I’m sorry to say that. We are always working hard and very professionally in the philosophy of Louis van Gaal.That is also for Jesse Lingard.”

After the Derby win, Rooney said: “It was obviously a better performance than last week’s game. But the manager gave us a lot of freedom to go and play, and you can see the difference in the team.” Following the Stoke victory, Lingard said: “Now we are playing with that freedom and we’ve got a lot of energy in the team.”

Van Gaal was also clear picking Juan Mata at No10 in the past two games is because the Spaniard is playing better. “I have already played Mata in the same role. Maybe you remember that? I’m not changing him from that role, he has changed himself because at that time he wasn’t good enough. That is the reason. It is not the trainer coach or the manager. When he is playing like he has played now he shall play at No10,” the Dutchman said.

“Maybe, we have to see if he plays there on Sunday. Maybe I have another No10 who is better than Mata. Maybe Andreas Pereira is better. I don’t discuss that with you, I’ll discuss it with Juan Mata. Juan Mata knows, and maybe he is doing better now.”

Van Gaal believes if United can beat Chelsea this will put them back on course to contend for the Premier League title. “Myself I have the feeling if we can beat Chelsea,” he said. “That is not simple, that is very difficult. Since Guus Hiddink is there they don’t lose anymore but if we beat Chelsea then I think our league is starting again, so that is very important. Michael Carrick said that to me, but I had the same feeling. The competition is not yet finished, not for Manchester Unitedor the other teams.

“We have the feeling, and that’s because we are winning twice in a row, with sparkling football I think, with goals, clean sheets, against opponents who were in great form – Stoke City played Liverpool off the pitch in the Capital One Cup but they lost on penalties.”

Van Gaal has selected Luke Shaw in his Europa League squad as an incentive for the left-back as he continues his recovery from the broken leg he suffered against PSV Eindhoven in September.

The Dutchman said Shaw’s goal is to aim to be fit for the final, should United reach it, on 18 May in Basel. “He can play the final, that is a goal that he has to live for,” said the 64-year-old. “In my opinion it is not impossible. It gives him the spirit [to come back].” – theguardian –

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