Pressure on Louis van Gaal increases after Manchester United defeat

18 February 2016 09:23

Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal was in the spotlight as his side headed to Denmark to play in the Europa League.

United's weekend defeat at Sunderland had diminished their hopes of a top-four finish in the Premier League, with Van Gaal suggesting their best hope of qualifying for next season's Champions League was by winning Europe's second-tier competition.

Here, Press Association Sport looks at how another miserable night unfolded for Van Gaal in a 2-1 defeat to Danish champions FC Midtjylland.

TACTICS

With Wayne Rooney absent, Van Gaal gave Anthony Martial a rare opportunity down the middle and United were always dangerous when the young Frenchman was involved. The hit-and-miss Memphis Depay and Jesse Lingard operated wide with Juan Mata behind Martial, but the quartet were wasteful and faded badly in the second half. The defence was often a complete mess and United had no answers when Midtjylland broke at them at pace.

PERFORMANCE

Van Gaal's night got off to a desperate start when David de Gea was injured in the warm-up and had to be replaced by Sergio Romero. But the Dutchman was grateful for Romero on more than one occasion as the Argentina goalkeeper made some outstanding saves. Like so much of United's season the performance was disjointed - promising in parts going forward, but completely undone by being careless in possession and comically naive at times.

SUBSTITUTIONS

The United boss waited until the 72nd minute to make his first substitution when Morgan Schneiderlin replaced Ander Herrera. His call was a response to the Danes taking control in the second half, and Herrera had been so poor the call could have come earlier. Mata was hooked after an insipid challenge allowed Midtjylland to score their second, but his replacement Andreas Pereira made no impact.

VERDICT

Another calamitous evening for United and the pressure will surely grow on Van Gaal after a seventh defeat in 15 matches. The Dutchman might be cursing his luck with injuries depriving him of so many frontline players, but this is a United camp devoid of confidence and characters. After crashing out of the Champions League before Christmas, another European exit could now await at Old Trafford next week.

Source: PA