Van Gaal says Manchester United ‘have’ to beat Southampton

Credit: @ManUtdMEN
Credit: @ManUtdMEN /

Wayne Rooney will be very important for Manchester United this year says Louis van Gaal

Manchester United boss Louis van Gaal has told his players to continue their good form and beat Southampton on Saturday afternoon. Furthermore, the 64 year-old praised captain Wayne Rooney for his strong start to the year.

United are currently going through a good spell, remaining unbeaten in 2016 so far with wins over Swansea City, Sheffield United, Liverpool and a draw against Newcastle United.

The results have helped the Red Devils move closer to the Champions League spots while the win over League One Sheffield United has earned them a fourth-round draw against Derby County in the FA Cup next weekend. That will off course be a tough tie but if United are looking to win a trophy this season then they will have to overcome tougher challenges to that of Derby.

But so far, 2016 has been good for Van Gaal and his players. The 1-0 win over Liverpool last week is the highlight with the rivalry between the two going back many years. It was Rooney who got the winning goal when he slammed home a volley in the 78th minute at Anfield. And that has continued his strong start to the year where the 30 year-old has netted five goals.

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Van Gaal, 64, has been impressed by his sides response after being so close to the sack in December. And the former Netherlands boss spoke about how the players are doing it themselves but the pressure will never go away as United are used to winning.

"“It is not interesting for me, it is only interesting for the players,” said Van Gaal as reported by “The players play the game and have the resistance in the game, so I think the pressure is a little bit gone, but it would return if we lost against Southampton. It is always the same pressure for Manchester United – we have to win. Our fans are always expecting us to win, especially at home.”"

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United are without Ashley Young for the game against Southampton after the winger tore his groin muscle which will require surgery. This means Cameron Borthwick-Jackson could get a start with the youngster impressing at Anfield – even though it leaves United in an injury crisis with Luke Shaw, Marcos Rojo, Antonio Valencia and Phil Jones all out.

So the pressure will be on the attackers to deliver and Rooney will lead the line again at Old Trafford. Frenchman Anthony Martial will also be alongside him as the 20 year-old continues to impress the fans in his first season.

But the onus will be on Rooney to continue his good form and Van Gaal admitted that the England international is the main man with United in this form.

"He continued: “It is a fact that since Rooney is scoring we have won our games, or at least we draw against Newcastle United away. There is a parallel and I have said that always that he is not only important as a player but as a captain, so I am very happy with him.”“Not only Wayne Rooney is doing that, there are several players doing that and that is what I want because the players are self responsible and it is not only the manager which is why I have made this approach to the players. Responsibility for the result and commitment for the result is very important and that they are showing.”"

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A win for United could see them go back into the top four above Spurs,  only if the London club lose to Crystal Palace. However, the title race is still wide open and the Red Devils will be chasing that spot instead of just a European place.